Thousands thought dead amid South Sudan unrest

  • 12/07/2016
Thousands thought dead amid South Sudan unrest

It looks like civil war and it still could be - South Sudan's capital held to ransom by the warring forces of its president and his deputy.

There has been four days of fighting in Juba - ethnic Dinka versus Nuer- and thousands of civilians either trapped in their homes or in United Nations (UN) compounds.

Those compounds are supposedly defended by Chinese peacekeepers that have themselves come under attack.

The UN said it was outraged after two of its men were killed and several injured - their armoured personnel carrier reportedly hit by a Sudanese government tank.

Juba's death toll from the last few days is in the hundreds, though neither peacekeepers nor aid workers now dare venture out to check. 

The UN is calling for an immediate arms embargo - and it's all too aware that its ability to protect civilians is once again in doubt.

Last Friday, president Salva Kir and vice-president Riek Machar held a joint press conference cut short by gunfire nearby. Their rivalry and failure to merge their armed forces is at the heart of this national disaster.

Aid agencies think hundreds of thousands have been killed since civil war erupted in 2013, two years after independence.

Over a third of South Sudan's 12 million people depend on humanitarian aid. More than 2 million have fled their homes in the last three years.

South Sudan's oil revenue has collapsed and the price of sorghum - the staple cereal crop - has increased by 400 percent this year.

Tens of thousands of civilians are seeking sanctuary in the United Nation's compounds, and the fear is that without a truce South Sudan will descend once again into full scale war.

Channel Four