South Sudan

Hungry S.Sudan army steals food from civilians


South Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers on a military truck

SPLA soldiers and their militia attacked a food distribution in Dablual village in a rebel held part of Mayendit county of South Sudan’s Unity state on Monday.

The attack took place two days after the World Food Programme delivered 270 metric tonnes of food to Dablual, according to Associated Press news agency.

Local relief commissioner John Riek said the soldiers burned the area completely, leaving people to die of hunger.

Riek said some 35,000 civilians fled into the bush, including residents of the village plus about 5,000 people who had been attacked elsewhere and were seeking shelter at the village.

Mayendit town, the county capital, was attacked by SPLA Division 6 from Lakes State in May.

Before the attack, Dablual was beginning to return to normal with the food drop.

In a visit last Saturday during the food drop, children were seen playing with wheelbarrows in the town and people were preparing to collect some small harvests to supplement the WFP food.

Dablual had been attacked twice before by SPLA Division 4 forces coming from Koch county in June.

According to displaced person Carbino Mean, interviewed in Dablual on Saturday, SPLA soldiers abducted his wife and many other women to use as forced laborers carrying soldiers’ loot.

Mean described armoured vehicles used by the soldiers from Division 4 which could cross both land and water, saying he had not seen them before.

Another man in Dablual, James Gatmai Yoak, said his house was burned during those earlier attacks.

A third resident, Yoach Deng, also had his home and cattle shelter burned during a previous attack.

He said his family of eight now shelters in a straw shack and is eating leaves because there is so little food.

Among the displaced people in Dablual before the attack were three children, siblings aged nine, six, and four who had been separated from their parents during an earlier attack on the village of Pabruong.

They said their father was killed and their mother ran in a different direction.

Meanwhile, villagers and conflict-displaced people living on the opposite bank of the Nile from Malakal are facing a critical food shortage after the government blocked deliveries of aid supplies.

Some residents have gone to Malakal in search of food but the government closed the way to prevent them from returning with the food.

Some came into UNMISS to get some cereal and go back but the government did not want food to be taken to other side of the river, the source said.

People in Wau Shilluk are reported to be eating grass and wild fruits for lack of food.

This news comes after Doctors Without Borders (MSF) demanded access to Wau Shilluk and other areas of the west bank saying that at least 77 children with severe acute malnutrition had been left without medical care and therapeutic food.

Wau Shilluk is under the control of a Shilluk general who was loyal to the government but switched sides several months ago.

UNICEF also confirmed that riverside villages on the west bank were cut off, stating in a recent weekly situation report, “On-going insecurity in Upper Nile has continued to cut off humanitarian assistance to populations along the Nile, in particular on the west bank, including areas hosting large numbers of [displaced people] such as Wau Shilluk.”

In Fangak, Jonglei state, an estimated 54,000 people have fled from attacks in Unity and Upper Nile states into the neighbouring Fangak area since April, hoping it will be safer.

Here a group of people crosses a swamp to reach a joint UNICEF/WFP mission that arrived by helicopter to assist the displaced people and their host community.


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