South Sudan: Hundreds wounded, villages looted in intercommunal fighting in Jonglei State

04 March 2020

Juba (ICRC) – Hundreds of people have been wounded, families forced to flee their homes, and villages looted amidst intercommunal clashes that erupted mid-February in Jonglei State. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has evacuated dozens of injured people for surgical care and calls on those engaged in the clashes to respect human life and the principles of humanity.

The ICRC treated nearly 70 people suffering from gunshot wounds over the past two weeks, as fighting broke out between thousands of armed men in several parts of Jonglei State.

"It is the first time we are forced to mobilize all three surgical units we run in the country for one series of related incidents," said Katja Lorenz, ICRC's deputy head of delegation in South Sudan. "We have received hundreds of requests for medical evacuations and we are struggling to meet the needs."

In Akobo, Ganyliel, and Juba, ICRC surgical teams have treated dozens of patients with gunshot injuries from different communities involved in the fighting. "We were able to evacuate the injured only when we had the guarantees from all communities that our team and aircraft would not be targeted," added Lorenz. "We can't land and transport the wounded if people are shooting in the area."

This violence also forced hundreds of families to flee their homes in various parts of Jonglei State. "I don't know if my wives and children are still alive," said Jion Angabal Arut, a 50-year-old man from Manyabol. "My livestock was taken, the house burnt down. How can I start over again?"

The ICRC supported the South Sudan Red Cross to deliver essential items to dozens of families who fled the fighting and found refuge in Anyidi.

These clashes come as a new unity government was formed, an important milestone in the country's peace process. However, violence between communities, driven by competition over resources and fueled by easy access to guns, continues.

Other parts of the country are also affected by high levels of violence. Between November 2019 and February 2020, clashes between different communities close to Rumbek in central South Sudan killed more than 250 people and injured over 300.

"In 2019, we treated 769 persons with gunshot wounds, 111 more than the year before. We are worried that 2020 could follow the same trend, deepening the suffering of families who are already struggling to recover from years of war," concluded Lorenz.

For further information, please contact:
Florian Seriex, ICRC Juba, +211 912 360 038
Aidah Khamis Woja, ICRC Juba, +211 925 230 500