29 December 2013

South Sudan: Diaspora Community Urges Better Protection for Bor Displaced in Lakes State

A rebel militia group known as the "White Army" is marching on the city of Bor, dampening hopes for a cease-fire in the conflict-stricken country. ( Resource: South Sudan Conflict Worsens As Rebels March On Key City )

Rumbek — Bor youth leaders in the diaspora community have appealed for better protection for thousands of displaced people in Lakes state's Awerial county, who recently fled violence in the Jonglei state capital.

In a letter send to Lakes state's military caretaker governor, Maj. Gen. Matur Chut Dhuol, the diaspora community in Alberta, Canada expressed gratitude for the collective support provided by the Lakes state government and authorities in Awerial to assist displaced Bor communities.

However, Michael Reech Madit Reech, chairperson of the Bor county community in Alberta, also expressed regret over reports of a number of violent incidents targeting vulnerable displaced people, including robbery, threats and even murder.

"In light of such instances, we are not only expressing our gratitude to the majority of people of Lakes state, we are also pleading for humanity, protection and support of our people in your communities", the letter dated 28 December said.

"We have heard of stories of great hospitality afforded by the people of Lakes state to the displaced. We therefore acknowledge with appreciation this spirit and humanity demonstrated by your people through welcoming and sharing of resources with fellow citizens from across the river", it adds.

Thousands of people were displaced by fighting in Bor after dissident troops split from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) and overran the town.

Diaspora members have also called on authorities to facilitate the provision of necessary humanitarian support to members of the Bor community, including basic needs such as food, shelter, water and medical supplies.

"Through this letter, we are appealing to the government and people of the Lakes state to protect and facilitate necessary support as much as possible for people of Bor and other counties displaced to your communities", Reech said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Sudan Tribune.

Aid agencies estimate that 40,000 have taken shelter in Lakes state after crossing the Nile from Bor to Awerial county's Guol-yar.

Phillip Kot Job, a South Sudan Relief Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) official in the state, described the humanitarian situation as critical.

He said large numbers of displaced people, many of them women and children, were sleeping under trees and drinking contaminated water direct from the river.

A dispute within South Sudan's presidential guards in the capital, Juba, on 15 December has sparked an outbreak of violence across South Sudan, with president Salva Kiir accusing former vice-president Riek Machar of masterminding a coup attempt to overthrow his government.

Defected army general Peter Gadet launched a rebellion against pro-government forces in Bor last week, with the SPLA regaining control of the town on 24 December.

The army said this week it has received information that forces loyal to Machar are preparing a fresh offensive on Bor.

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