20 February 2011 – Following a recent outbreak of violence between rival forces in Fangak County, Jonglei State, an UNMIS official has urged the state government to assist the victims and protect civilians from further harm.
"There are atrocities committed in Fangak and many civilians have lost their lives," UNMIS Human Rights Officer El Shareef Mohammed said today during a fact-finding mission to the area. "Humanitarian assistance is urgently needed."
The mission's gender and child protection units were also present to asses the situation in Fangak, where fighting between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and rebel SPLA Gen. George Athor's forces broke out on 9 and 10 February, leaving some 200 people dead.
The conflict also displaced thousands and left many wounded, including civilians and military personnel.
Following the signing of a permanent ceasefire agreement on 5 January between the rebel general and the Government of Southern Sudan, Gen. Athor's and SPLA forces were designated to share Fangak's Dor village, where the fighting broke out. It is unclear what triggered the conflict.
Sunday Ruach Kuon, a clinical officer in Phom El Zeraf Hospital, said his institution was overwhelmed by more than 300 patients after the Dor fighting. "We were only eight staff handling the cases. Unfortunately, 10 patients died in the hospital because we did not have surgical doctors."
Speaking at a 14 February press conference, Upper Nile State Minister of Health Stephen Lor Nyak thanked UNMIS for airlifting victims of the fighting from Fangak to the Upper Nile State capital of Malakal for further treatment.
"The governor of the Upper Nile State, Simon Kon Pouch, has donated 30,000 Sudanese Pounds ($11,400) to the Upper Nile State Ministry of Health to help the injured," Minister Nyak added. "Meanwhile, the World Food Programme has provided some food items."
Medicine Sans Frontiers and the Sudan Red Crescent provided treatment and medication to the injured.
Since the conflict, business in Phom El Zeraf town seems to have normalized and residents have pledged to stay.
"We have come to our land and we will not go back to Khartoum," said John Bouth Reath, a team-leader for returnees in the town. "Our families will remain here," he added, urging the government to protect area civilians.
Gen. Athor rebelled against the regional government after he lost his Jonglei State gubernatorial bid to Kuol Manyang during the April 2010 national elections.