16 December 2013

South Sudan: 13,000 Flee to UN Compound in Juba, South Sudan

Photo: Arne Doornebal/ RNW
Sudan Air defence.

Juba — There are up to 13,000 civilians inside the bases of the UN peacekeeping mission (UNMISS) in the South Sudanese capital Juba, says Toby Lanzer, the UN Deputy Special Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator in Juba.

He stated that the figure is "up to 13,000 and counting" at bases including the main compound near the airport and the so-called "UN House" compound on the southwestern side of the city.

One of the guards at the northern gate of the UNMISS compound near the airport explained to Radio Tamazuj that pregnant women and children were given priority for entry to the compound, as well as wounded civilians, while others have to wait outside.

Juba Hospital is at its limit for admission of new patients. The morgue is full, but no official has counted the number of dead bodies. There are apparently tens of dead bodies brought to the mortuary.

The situation has calmed to some extent, but there is still sporadic gunfire. A curfew has been in effect since 18:00. No one is allowed to be on the street.

In Tongping area there was a report of looting in the afternoon, but details are yet to be confirmed.

The Ministry of Information only confirmed that seven people were killed, but reports reaching Radio Tamazuj suggest the number is almost certainly much higher.

Civilians who tried to reach the hospital were sent back. An eyewitness saw three dead bodies at the fire brigade opposite Malakia police station, but when the relatives were desperate for help, they were not allowed to transport the casualties to the hospital.

One man tried to reach the hospital by motorbike but was stopped and searched. After telling he was on his way to the hospital he was let through.

International Red Cross has been seen driving through the streets with an flag on top of the car.


Thousands of civilians have been seeking refuge in the UNMISS compound adjacent to the international airport and at the UN House in the Jebel Kujur area, including a large number women and children.

UNMISS head, Hilde Johnson expressed her deep concerns and asks for restraint of violence. She said she had talked to President Salva Kiir Mayardit and to Riek Machar, Deputy Chairman of the SPLM, and called on both of them to call for restraint, as well as the Defence Minister, the Minister of National Security and the Foreign Minister.

"While UNMISS is not a humanitarian operator, and our mandate is to protect civilians, basic water supplies and medical treatment are being provided. We hope the security situation in Juba will quickly normalize to enable the civilians to return very soon to their residential areas", UNMISS told Radio Tamazuj.

Lull in fighting

Later in the day, some people in various residential neighborhoods started to go out in the streets again. Civilians were seen sitting in groups on their porches or under trees. Some cars also started to drive.

Most people were trapped inside their neighborhoods in Jebel Market Area and other parts of Jebel and some parts of Jabarona.

Special forces are sending them back to their houses, while some inhabitants of the areas of Jabarona, Kator and Khor William are taking refuge in Kator St. Theresa Catholic Cathedral.

Ambulances are driving on and off for taking casualties from Bilpam to Juba Teaching Hospital. A witness saw three ambulances with over six pick-ups, every pick up carrying at least four casualties.

Civilian casualties have been reported but are not always able to move to the hospitals. Medical personnel have been hindered in moving to the hospital due to the road blocks.

The airport is closed and there were earlier reports of SPLA tanks on the move from the airport towards ministries.

News photo: Civilians at UNMISS compound in Juba (UNMISS)

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