The BBC continues its reporting on the South Sudan conflict by interviewing Anglican bishops. Today, they talked to Ruben Akurdit Ngong, bishop of Bor, though now in Juba. (Last week, they interviewed Hilary Garang Deng, the bishop of Malakal.)
The interview begins at 6:50 and goes to 8:20. I transcribed some of what he had to say.
It is really terrible, it’s horrible. You cannot even describe it. Two days, we came out of the UNMISS compound and it seemed to be alright. But suddenly things turned around and we heard gunshots and the rebels running towards Bor town. So everyone started fleeing in different directions. They ran into the bush. Some came into the town. Some went to the River Nile, others towards Lakes State and Juba. The people are confused because they see there is no longer any way to receive protection because the government and soldiers are engaged in confronting the rebels and the rebels are advancing so the civilian population becomes vulnerable. It’s a war zone. You find dead bodies everywhere. When you are in Bor town, you move around closing your nose because of the smell. Bor is in anarchy because the government is not in control. The rebels are not in control. What they are doing is fighting each other. There is no system, no way that help can come to the civilian population. There is no way even to get medicines to the vulnerable. It is just a really terrible situation.
“Control” of Bor (I use the quotation marks because of what Bishop Ruben had to say about anarchy) appears to have changed hands at least three times since the violence began. First, the town was taken by “rebels” and many residents of Bor—including the bishop—fled to the UN compound just outside town. Then the government forces took Bor back and many people came out of the UN compound. That is when I first spoke to Bishop Ruben.
Then, over the weekend and in the first part of this week, an army of young men gathered outside the town. Many people, including the bishop, fled, increasing the number of displaced people across the river in Awerial. Now, there are disputes about who controls Bor. Based on what Bishop Ruben has to say, it seems no one does. As I have written previously, the slow and patient work of building a new country has been suddenly undone.