South Sudan: U.S. evacuates embassy staff amid ‘sudden and serious’ fighting

South Sudan: U.S. evacuates embassy staff amid ‘sudden and serious’ fighting

The United States is evacuating non-emergency staff from its embassy in South Sudan, after an escalation of fighting in the capital that has killed scores including a Chinese U.N. peacekeeper.

The State Department said the security situation in Juba Sunday had seen a “sudden and serious deterioration,” with clashes between government and opposition forces breaking out into “general fighting.”
The United Nations Security Council, which held a closed door meeting in New York Sunday, expressed “shock and outrage” at attacks on civilians and U.N. compounds, saying they may constitute war crimes.
It called on President Salva Kiir and his rival Vice President Riek Machar to control their respective forces, prevent the spread of violence and genuinely commit themselves to the implementation of a ceasefire and peace agreement.
Fighting first broke out Thursday, with skirmishes between troops loyal to Kiir and soldiers who support his deputy Machar.
Fighting flared again Sunday, with gunfire exchanged outside a U.N. building, after a lull Saturday when the young country celebrated the fifth anniversary of its independence from Sudan.
“What we may be seeing is a total breakdown of command and control in Juba,” said Kate Almquist Knopf, director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. “We need to watch carefully for whether a cycle of reprisal killings by either side begins in the next few days.”
Japan’s ambassador to the U.N., Koro Bessho confirmed the death of the Chinese soldier. Chinese and Rwandan peacekeepers also sustained injuries.

Death toll unclear

Earlier, South Sudan’s information minister said the government is “in full control” of the capital, Juba, despite the United Nations reporting that the weekend’s deadly violence had carried into Sunday.
Church services were interrupted by fighting between troops loyal to the president and those backing the vice president, but the violence has since subsided, Information Minister Micheal Makuei Lueth told South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation.
Lueth said President Kiir would issue a permanent and unilateral ceasefire before Sunday’s end and urged his rival, Vice President Machar, to do the same “because we want to save the lives of the people of South Sudan.”
How many have been killed in fighting between factions loyal to Kiir and Machar is unclear. Though one estimate puts the death toll close to 150, other reports indicate more than 270 have been killed. CNN is working to confirm an exact death toll.


Gunfire from “heavy weaponry” was exchanged for much of Sunday outside a U.N. building on the outskirts of Juba, the U.N. mission to the country said.
The mission sent out a series of tweets at about 8:25 a.m. (1:25 a.m. ET) describing “gunshots” and a “heavily armed exchange” outside a U.N. compound.
The U.S. Embassy issued an alert saying that fighting between government and opposition forces was ongoing at the U.N. mission’s headquarters, the Jebel area of the city and near the airport.
The U.N. mission in South Sudan, known as UNMISS, said that 1,000 internally displaced people had fled its protection as violence hit areas near their camps.
“Both UNMISS compounds in Juba have sustained impacts from small arms and heavy weapons fire.”
The United Nations urges all parties to respect the sanctity of the United Nations and condemns any deliberate targeting of United Nations premises and its personnel,” it said in a statement.

Flights canceled

Kenya Airways, which operates two flights a day to Juba, said it was suspending all flights to the city because of an “uncertain security situation,” while Britain’s Foreign Office advised against all travel to South Sudan, saying “the security situation in Juba has deteriorated” since Friday.
Two weeks ago, fighting in the western city of Wau between government and opposition troops displaced at least 70,000, according to the United Nations.
The country is nearly out of money because its funds come almost exclusively from oil revenue — the value of which has plummeted. People have become desperate. In lieu of payment, government soldiers have reportedly been allowed to rape women, a U.N. report said.
South Sudan gained independence in 2011 after 98% of the population voted to break away from Sudan. The East African nation, the youngest country in the world, quickly fell into civil war that took on ethnic undertones.
In December 2013, soldiers from Kiir’s Dinka ethnic group tried to disarm Nuer soldiers perceived to be loyal to Machar. Soldiers targeted Nuer civilians in the ensuing fighting, Human Rights Watch says.
The civil war was gruesome — at least 50,000 were killed, more than 2 million displaced, and nearly 5 million people faced severe food shortages. Under a peace deal signed in August, Kiir is the president of the country and Machar is the first vice president, but the fighting hasn’t stopped.
Website design in Abuja

follow us on twitter @aljazirahnewsng
Like us on Facebook @aljazirahnewsng

Share This:

Related Posts

UN Security Council rejects arms embargo on South Sudan The UN Security Council on Friday rejected a US-drafted resolution on imposing an arms embargo and sanctions on South Sudan amid divisions over how to pressure leaders to end the three-year war. The measure presented by the United States garnered only seven votes in favor in the 15-member council, ...
Man shot dead outside US embassy in Kenya A man was shot dead outside the US embassy in Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday. The embassy confirmed a shooting incident had taken place outside its premises, adding that none of its staff members were involved. Reuters reported the man had been shot dead by a Kenyan police officer after the man a...
Gunfire, blasts as ISIL attacks Kirkuk amid Mosul push ISIL fighters have attacked multiple targets in and around the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, in a major assault that appeared aimed at diverting Iraqi and Kurdish forces from a massive push against Mosul, the armed group's last major stronghold in Iraq. The coordinated attacks began early on Friday wh...
Under pressure, South Sudan agrees to 4,000 new peacekeepers South Sudan has agreed to the deployment of a 4,000-strong regional protection force approved by the U.N. Security Council after first rejecting the peacekeepers as a violation of its sovereignty. Sunday's announcement came after the Security Council met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir duri...
India suggests citizens not to travel to South Sudan Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday suggested its nationals not to travel to South Sudan. ``Indian nationals are advised not to travel to South Sudan. ``Please register yourself with Indian Embassy and do not panic,’’ Swaraj said. Meanwhile, Indian Ambassador to...

Tags assigned to this article:
gunfiresouth sudanus embassy