BEIRUT

Middle East

UN warns of S. Sudan famine after aid helicopter downed

A United Nations MI-8 helicopter at the airport in Juba, South Sudan December 22, 2013. (AP Photo/UNMISS)

JUBA: War-torn South Sudan faces possible famine early next year, the U.N. chief in the country warned Thursday, as aid workers said the shooting down of a U.N. helicopter threatened efforts to save lives.

"We all are working very hard to prevent a famine... but I am very worried that we will not be able to prevent it," U.N. aid chief in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, told reporters.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than 1.8 million have fled a civil war sparked by a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar.

"The single biggest cause if there is a famine is the failure of the political leadership to resolve this crisis," Lanzer said.

Famine, if declared, could be expected at the end of 2014 or "more likely" in early 2015, he added.

The U.N. Security Council said the U.N. Mi-8 cargo helicopter was downed Tuesday by an "attack" that killed three Russian crew members and injured another, but did not say which side was to blame.

U.N. cargo helicopters are vital to supplying peacekeeping bases and providing food for civilians.

Lanzer said that all flights to the northern oil town of Bentiu, had been suspended following the crash, as investigators examined the craft's black box flight recorder.

"If this type of threat continues, our services will grind to a halt in Bentiu," Wendy Taeuber, who heads International Rescue Committee in the country, told AFP.

"Helicopter is the only way in and out for both staff and supplies."

The army and rebels have both accused each other for the attack, which broke a day-old cease-fire deal, the fourth in eight months of war.

Over 45,000 civilians are sheltering in the U.N. camp in Bentiu alone, some of more than 100,000 civilians who have fled to U.N. bases to escape the conflict.

Famine implies that at least 20 percent of households face extreme food shortages, there is acute malnutrition in over 30 percent of people, and two deaths per 10,000 people every day, according to the U.N.'s definition.

 

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

War-torn South Sudan faces possible famine early next year, the U.N. chief in the country warned Thursday, as aid workers said the shooting down of a U.N. helicopter threatened efforts to save lives.

The U.N. Security Council said the U.N. Mi-8 cargo helicopter was downed Tuesday by an "attack" that killed three Russian crew members and injured another, but did not say which side was to blame.

Over 45,000 civilians are sheltering in the U.N. camp in Bentiu alone, some of more than 100,000 civilians who have fled to U.N. bases to escape the conflict.


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here