Thu December 19, 2013
Neighboring Crises In South Sudan, Central African Republic
Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 5:39 pm
There's disturbing news this morning from neighboring nations in Africa:
-- In South Sudan, The Associated Press writes, "the government no longer controls the capital of an oil-producing state, officials said Thursday as an ethnic rivalry and a power struggle threatened to burst the seams of the world's newest country. ... The South Sudan government has said the violence has already killed up to 500 people. Juba, the capital, was reported calm there on Wednesday and Thursday, but clashes were reported in Jonglei state."
The BBC reports that "Sudanese rebels have taken over a key town, the military has said, as fighting continues after Sunday's reported coup attempt. 'Our soldiers have lost control of Bor to the force of Riek Machar,' said army spokesman Philip Aguer."
"Since independence," the BBC adds, "several rebel groups have taken up arms and one of these is said to have been involved in the capture of Bor. The U.N. has expressed concern about a possible civil war between the country's two main ethnic groups, the Dinka of [President Salva] Kiir and the Nuer of [ousted Vice President Riek] Machar."
-- In the Central African Republic, "nearly 1000 people, double the number estimated by the U.N., have been killed in attacks ... by a mainly Muslim militia, according to the human rights charity Amnesty International," the BBC says.
"Our in-depth research on the ground in the Central African Republic over the past two weeks has left no room for doubt that war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed by all parties to the conflict," Christian Mukosa, Amnesty International's Central Africa expert, says in a statement posted by the organization.
As Reuters writes, "waves of massacres and reprisals by Muslim and Christian militias have killed hundreds [in the Central African Republic] since rebels seized power in March, waking the world up to the fact that it might be witnessing the prelude to another Rwanda, where 800,000 were hacked, shot or clubbed to death in 100 days."
Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is in the Central African Republic. She's trying to deliver "a real difficult message," NPR's Michele Kelemen, who is traveling with the ambassador, said on Morning Edition.
Power's message, Michele said, is that "mob violence is quick, but real justice takes time." She's trying to convince activists on both sides not to resort to more violence.
Power is also bringing news of U.S. aid: $100 million to help the French military bring African peacekeepers to the country; and $15 million in humanitarian aid.
Update at 5:40 p.m. ET:
On All Things Considered, Kelemen reported that Power spoke with women who had witnessed violence at the hands of the country's Muslim and Christian militias.
Kelemen says Power spoke to "a woman who said she was there with her husband and eight children, that they are too terrified to go back home because of the Seleka [Muslim] fighters ... who ousted the government in a coup in March and have since rampaged through villages and looted."
At a mosque, Power "met with a woman whose family was attacked by these Christian self-defense militias that have popped up after the Seleka forces have taken over the capital, Bagui," Kelemen says. "This woman described how they came in and attacked her husband with a machete and burned him in front of her."