Three Irish citizens ‘on lockdown’ in South Sudan as fighting erupts

UN calls on warring factions to end violence in Juba


Feargal O’Connell among thousands in refuge from violence in South Sudan | Image: Concern

Three Irish aid workers are among thousands seeking refuge from escalating violence in the South Sudanese capital of Juba.

The Concern Worldwide staff are said to be on lockdown after gun battles erupted in and around the city on Friday.

Feargal O’Connell from Dublin, the charity’s country director, is in hiding with six other staff at Concern’s office in Juba.

He told Newstalk last night that up to 10,000 people may now be displaced. 

Two other Irish citizens working with Concern are in field locations outside the capital of the world’s newest country, which has been beset by civil war since 2013.

Hundreds are reported to have died in gun battles since the renewed outbreak of fighting between government soldiers supporting President Salva Kiir and troops loyal to Vice-President Riek Machar.

The UN Security Council has condemned the violence "in the strongest terms" and urged warring groups to control their forces. It also criticised the targeting of UN compounds housing displaced citizens.

The council called on South Sudan's two opposing leaders to “genuinely commit themselves to the full and immediate implementation of the peace agreement, including the permanent ceasefire and redeployment of military forces from Juba”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has meanwhile warned Irish citizens against travelling to the country

Minister Charlie Flanagan said yesterday that he was “very concerned” at the deteriorating security situation in Juba.

”My department is monitoring the situation closely and our embassy team in Addis Ababa is liaising with Irish citizens in the area who are registered with the department,” he said.