Malakal town "deserted, destroyed and under severe stress": UN official

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IRIN/Hannah McNeish

The South Sudan town of Malakal is deserted, destroyed and under severe stress, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator Toby Lanzer said on Thursday after touring the area.

Government forces loyal to the former South Sudanese Vice-President recently battled for control of the oil-rich Upper Nile state capital.

Mr. Lanzer said his team managed to go into the center of town under extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances to reach people in need of protection.

He said was "very moved" by what he saw.

"So I came to Malakal for the first time in four weeks and this is a city that is deserted, a hospital that is in tatters. I am very, very moved by what I saw in Malakal. I was here four weeks ago with Valerie Amos, it was a city that was coming back to life. Well, that life has come to an end."

Mr. Lanzer said around 1800 people were found in one of the last churches standing in Malakal and were taken to the UN base.

People were under no obligation to leave their homes, but the UN Humanitarian Coordinator said he would not "second-guess" anybody's decision to seek protection at the UN base as opposed to staying in a town that is "deserted, destroyed and under severe stress."

He also visited war-torn Bor, the capital of Jonglei State, where his team found four mass graves and a business district that had been totally destroyed.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’26″

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