(Juba, 08 September 2022) The Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Ms. Sara Beysolow Nyanti, is deeply concerned by the latest round of violence in Upper Nile State, and its consequences on civilians. Since mid-August, thousands of people have been displaced across many areas of Upper Nile, Jonglei, and Unity states following heavy fighting between armed factions in Tonga town and neighbouring areas in Panyikang County, Upper Nile State. Yesterday, fighting erupted near Adidiang, where several thousands of the displaced had taken refuge, leading to civilian deaths, injuries and further displacement.
“I was in Adidiang a week ago, and I am devastated that the women, children, and elderly people I met have suffered further violence and trauma”, said Ms. Nyanti. Initial reports describe unimaginable scenes of Adidiang set ablaze, humanitarian structures established as recent as two weeks ago destroyed and civilians fleeing the fighting by canoes and boats, leading to several people drowning. According to unconfirmed reports up to 300 people have been killed in the attacks. “This kind of violence, in an area hosting displaced civilians, in unconscionable”, Ms. Nyanti added. “All parties need to remember their obligations under International Law and ensure civilians are protected, no matter where they are”.
All partners are engaged in a race against time to save those at risk of drowning in their haste to flee the violence. As traumatized civilians start arriving in Malakal, humanitarian partners estimate that up to 5,000 people could arrive in the coming hours and days, seeking protection and assistance at the Protection of Civilians Site (PoC). Humanitarians have swiftly mobilized available resources and are working to provide life-saving assistance to meet urgent needs. However, there are concerns over the situation within the PoC following fighting that erupted last night within the PoC. While violence was contained, concerns over potential spill over of the fighting to Malakal, and the PoC camp, remain.
“We will continue supporting people in need to the best of our ability” Ms. Nyanti said. “But we need an immediate cessation of hostilities, and a resolution to the conflict. Without peace, civilians will continue to suffer and die under our watch”, she added.
Note to editors:
Some 6.8 million of the most vulnerable people in South Sudan need urgent life-saving assistance and protection in 2022. South Sudan continues to be the most violent context for aid workers, followed by Afghanistan and Syria.
Since the beginning of 2022, five humanitarian workers were killed there in the line of duty. Across the country, aid workers – mostly national humanitarian workers – are affected by the impact of armed violence, bureaucratic impediments, and targeted violence.