South Sudan crisis: Voices from Juba


Two residents in South Sudan's capital, Juba, tell BBC about their experiences following clashes between rival army factions which have spread around the country.

At least 500 people are believed to have died since last weekend, when President Salva Kiir accused his ex-deputy Riek Machar of a failed coup.

There are concerns that the unrest could descend into civil war and inflame ethnic divisions between the majority Dinka group and Mr Machar's Nuer community.

Ayaga, a civil servant

I'm currently in Nimule [on the border], just processing my car document to cross to Uganda.

Juba is becoming very, very unsafe for the little children and their mum because we are not sure when this will happen again. Currently things are calm but it is uncertain at the same time.

First of all forces that defected withdrew to Bor and captured Bor town and we're hearing that they're regrouping and reorganising to attack Juba.

Number two, the soldiers have gone out of discipline; they're shooting randomly and also looting.

Personally I haven't seen any dead bodies on the streets, although I was living 200m from the battle scene - but we evacuated people from that area. Some people told me they had seen bodies.

I don't think my family will be back in the next three or four months until it cools down. I have a house in Uganda. Myself I'll be coming back after the first week in January.

image captionBor is in dissident soldiers' hands and residents have fled to the UN compound

I'll be able to protect myself and we really have to be there to see how things work out. I'm not completely pessimistic… things might work out with the intervention of the international community.

'Not tribal'

There is over 150 cars here - cars with families. Southern Sudanese in their diversity and foreigners as well - Ugandans, Kenyans and I can also see Lebanese types.

You know this thing in not tribal completely - it's a power struggle. If you follow South Sudanese politics you'll known that Dr Riek [Machar] has been so much interested to take over power, it's just a power struggle and it's existed for a very long time… it's only that those allied to Mr Riek are his tribesmen.

Many [high-ranking army] officials are Nuer - the element of tribalism is being taken up by the media. I have Nuer friends.

My dad remains with his family [in Juba] and that is a fear for me - I want to get them to Aweil [a town in the north-west].

My major fear is [an] escalation of this conflict and South Sudan running into civil war and that is something that we cannot afford at the moment.

Juba is calm, the problem is outside Juba where things are getting worse. There are six medical doctors in Bor and now they've run out to the bush because there was shelling at the hospital. I texted one of them this morning, they're still hiding in the bush.

They're bringing a lot of bodies to the hospital here - every day bodies have come in - some of them were burned, some with gunshots - some died here.

The first day after the tragedy I think 15 people died, the next day things began increasing. There are quite a lot of civilians amongst the dead - the first day were mainly soldiers but then there were lots of civilians - even civilians holding American passports we found.

It's very hard to identify them as some corpses are very burnt.

image captionThe airport is busy and it's difficult to book a flight

Today we have around 80 bodies - yesterday people started doing mass burials because the mortuary is full - putting 20 or 50 bodies in one grave - that is what is going on.

I don't want you to use my name because things have got out of hand - it's become so sectarian and when somebody expresses an opinion, people might take it the wrong way; it's a big problem.

People are leaving in their thousands, you can see the airport is busy - and taking buses.

I tried to look for a ticket because I want to take some members of my family to Nairobi, but it's impossible to get a flight. People are asking you to pay about 1,500 Sudanese pounds ($265) for a one-way ticket - the prices are very high. I have the money but there are no flights.

But I myself want to stay because if we medical staff leave, who's going to help?

For now in the hospital, it's OK.

image captionSudan's arid north is mainly home to Arabic-speaking Muslims. But in South Sudan there is no dominant culture. The Dinkas and the Nuers are the largest of more than 200 ethnic groups, each with its own languages and traditional beliefs, alongside Christianity and Islam.
image captionBoth Sudan and the South are reliant on oil revenue, which accounts for 98% of South Sudan's budget. They have fiercely disagreed over how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state - at one time production was shutdown for more than a year. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north.
image captionThe two Sudans are very different geographically. The great divide is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. South Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.
image captionIn the Sudanese states of Khartoum, River Nile, and Gezira states, two-thirds of people have access to piped drinking water and pit latrines. In South Sudan, boreholes and unprotected wells are the main drinking sources. More than 80% of South Sudanese have no toilet facilities.
image captionThroughout the two Sudans, access to primary school education is strongly linked to household earnings. In the poorest parts of the south, less than 1% of children finish primary school. Whereas in the wealthier north, up to 50% of children complete primary level education.
image captionConflict and poverty are the main causes of food insecurity in both countries. In Sudan, many of the residents of war-affected Darfur and the border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan depend on food aid. The UN says about 2.8m people in South Sudan required food aid in 2013.

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