Upper Nile: U.N concerned over 20,000 civilians in wilderness
February 16, 2017 (JUBA) – The U.N Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Thursday expressed concern about the safety of up to 20,000 civilians said to have been displaced in the western bank of the Nile River in Upper Nile state, describing their stay in the wilderness as “real problem.”
- The map of Upper Nile state
The head of the U.N peacekeeping mission in the country, David Shearer remarked this when he visited Malakal in Upper Nile state.
“We want to find out what has happened to those people and provide them with assistance if they need it,” Shearer said Thursday.
According to the world body, fierce fighting between pro-government forces and armed opposition forces in the west bank of Nile River recently escalated, leading to further displacements.
“UNMISS believes that the 20,000 people have fled towards Kodok from Wau Shilluk, a town eight miles north of the UN base in Malakal on the west bank of the River Nile,” partly reads UNMISS’s statement.
The clashes, it said, indicates further escalation with no “signs of abating.”
“On Thursday, UN peacekeepers attempted to carry out a foot patrol to Wau Shilluk, but were prevented from doing so by government SPLA soldiers located at Wau Shilluk,” it further stressed.
The latest fighting, UNMISS said, led to abandoning of Malakal town by an estimated 33,000 members of the Shilluk tribe who took shelter at the protection of civilians sites managed by peacekeepers.
The opposition forces fighting the government west of Malakal, a territory of the Shilluk tribe, are largely commanded by Gen. Johnson Olony, a Shilluk, who is loyal to the armed opposition leader and the country’s ex-First Vice Presdient, Riek Machar.
Some 4.9 million people, aid agencies say, are facing severe food insecurity in South Sudan, while 1.84 million are displaced internally, in addition to approximately 1.2 million who have fled to its neighbouring countries.