MALAKAL, SOUTH SUDAN (February 21, 2016) – Three members of the Evangelical Covenant Church of South Sudan (ECCSS) were among at least 20 people killed last Wednesday when attackers linked to government forces stormed a United Nations camp with automatic weapons and machetes.
According to Matthew Jock Moses, director of projects and social development for the Evangelical Covenant Church, at least five ECCSS members were among the estimated 90 civilians who were wounded or killed at the UN camp for internally displaced people. As of Sunday morning, another three ECCSS members were missing, said Moses.
Mathew said the ECCSS members killed were Tabitha Nyagun Hoth, a deacon; Peter Nyoch Khan, evangelist in charge of ECCSS church in the U.N. camp; Paul Puok Jakoak, an ECCSS elder. Pastor Philip Kay Lul fled to the bush where he stayed for two days but made his way safely to the UN Mission in South Sudan base.
“I am asking your prayers for the people who lost their love ones and those who are wounded while still living in dire situation without proper medication,” Mathew said.
On Friday, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said in a statement, “The United States condemns in the strongest terms the violence at a UN compound in Malakal that led to the killing of internally displaced persons, and the burning and looting of a facility that provides refuge and aid to over 40,000 victims of the conflict in South Sudan.” She added, “We are especially disturbed by credible reports that a large group of South Sudanese Government soldiers entered the compound and opened fire on civilians seeking refuge within the camp.”
Other reports say the fighting was carried out at least in part by youth of the Dinka tribe as part of ongoing conflict between the Dinka and Shilluk tribes. Those reports allege that government soldiers had supplied the weapons.
The camp had been home to some 48,000 people, and Wednesday’s attack has displaced at least 26,000. A statement released by the United Nations Refugee Agency said “civilians fled carrying whatever they could and that vulnerable people were left unattended. Many families were separated in the rush to flee.”
The UN reported that “some 4,000 displaced Dinka fled to Malakal town, while tens of thousands of Nuer and Shilluk IDPs sought refuge at the UNMISS (UN Mission in South Sudan) base in Malakal.” Nearly all of ECSSS members are Nuer.
Two workers with Doctors Without Borders also were killed, the organization said.