Nairobi: Red Cross volunteers are trying to
reconnect 150 young children with their missing parents after
tens of thousands of residents of South Sudan ran into the
bush while fleeing a massive wave of tribe-on-tribe violence,
an official said on Wednesday.
Many of those parents, though, are feared to be dead.
Violence broke out late last month between two South Sudanese
tribes in the town of Pibor, sending tens of thousands of
residents into the surrounding countryside. A death toll is
not known because officials cannot gain safe access to the
region. One community leader believes the toll is in the
Save The Children said today that up to 25,000 women and
children fled the violence and are living in the bush. The UN
reported last week that 6,000 armed men were marching on
"Children in the area already live in continual fear of
violence and are often abducted in raids. If fighting
continues thousands more could be killed, maimed, abducted or
recruited to fight," the group said.
The UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan
estimated today that the death toll could be in the hundreds.
Speaking via video link from South Sudan's capital, Juba, Lise
Grande said she saw five corpses outside of Pibor.
"The situation on the ground now, in humanitarian terms,
is grim," Grande said. "Because people fled town, they didn't
take anything with them. They've been in the bush for up to a
week. They haven't had food, they haven't had access to clean
water, in a number of cases their people are wounded."
She said the South Sudan government had promised to
reinforce troops with 3,000 infantry soldiers 800 police
officers who were beginning to arrive.
David Gai, who works with the Red Cross in South Sudan,
said the situation in Pibor has stabilised, and that several
hundred people have returned to the town, but that about 150
children who were separated from their families in the mad
scramble now cannot find their parents.
The youngest of the children is 6 months old, he said,
and was found lying under a tree. Most are aged from 1 to 7
"It is not known if their parents are killed or lost
during the attack. Our volunteers are trying to register them
now," Gai said, adding later: "What we assume now is that some
of the parents are not alive, some of them are killed."
Doctors Without Borders said today that two of its
medical facilities were targeted during the violence and that
the group had to suspend medical services in the region.
First Published: Wednesday, January 04, 2012, 10:56