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Juba residents tell of fear, growing desperation

More than three million people have been displaced by the conflict in South Sudan/AFP

More than three million people have been displaced by the conflict in South Sudan/AFP

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 11 – Residents of Juba in South Sudan say they are living in fear following infighting that has claimed over 150 lives over the past few days.

Speaking to Capital FM News from Juba, Enrica Valentini, Director of Catholic Radio Network said people had been asked to stay indoors.

“I am now in the house, people working for international organisations have been especially asked to stay indoors,” Valentini explained.

She said there was no information forthcoming because most local media outlets had been shut while others had their operations affected by the fighting that broke out on Friday.

According to Valentini, the fighting was still raging on Monday and it was unclear who was controlling what group of fighters.

“It’s very confused and of course very tensed because we don’t know exactly what is going on. People are fighting in different parts of the town. It’s not clear who is controlling what, that’s why people are quite scared.”

Even though there was minimal movement, she said she could see groups of people running to safety.

Violence erupted near Gudele and Jebel suburbs where a military barrack that hosts troops linked to South Sudan’s vice President Riek Machar reside.

On his Twitter account on Monday, Machar urged people not to fight and expressed hope that South Sudan had a future which should be guarded.

“I urge calm and restraint throughout these skirmishes. I’m safe. No one should take laws in their own hands to destabilise this country. We came to Juba knowing that a country needs all of us. I’ve not lose (sic) that hope,” he stated.

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In an earlier tweet, Machar accused President Kiir of failing to embrace peace.

“In the last 2 hrs, we went through heavy bombardments by Pres Kiir helicopters. This tells that our partner is not interested in peace.”

The renewed fighting in Juba has provoked world attention with US President Barack Obama, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and President Uhuru Kenyatta calling for sobriety among the South Sudan leaders to defend and shield the young country from sliding back to civil war.

READ: Emergency IGAD meeting called in response to worsening situation in Juba

The South Sudan Embassy in Nairobi was scheduled to brief the media on Tuesday about the situation that has left the world concerned about the risky path that could see the country trash the peace achieved so far.


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