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Middle East

Over a million displaced by South Sudan conflict: U.N.

  • Children inspect the fin of a mortar projectile fired by rebels during an attack near the Al-Abassi camp. (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah )

JUBA: More than a million people in South Sudan have been forced from their homes during more than three months of fighting, with conditions continuing to worsen, the United Nations has warned. “In the 100 days since the start of the conflict in South Sudan, over 1 million people have fled their homes,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report late Friday.

Over 800,000 people have been displaced inside South Sudan, while almost 255,000 have fled as refugees to neighboring countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, the U.N. said.

Violence erupted in South Sudan on December 15 between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and fighters loosely allied to former Vice President Riek Machar.

A cease-fire between government and rebel forces inked in January is in tatters, with fighting ongoing.

“Fighting between government and opposition forces has continued, especially in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile state, where towns and rural areas have been ravaged by the violence,” the OCHA report added.

The conflict has caused a “serious deterioration in the food security situation” with some 3.7 million people at high risk, it read.

Peace talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa have made little progress, with the two sides squabbling in luxury hotels over who could attend negotiations.

Tens of thousands of civilians are sheltering inside U.N. peacekeeper bases fearing revenge attacks, crammed into tiny areas as seasonal heavy rain exacerbates increasingly squalid conditions.

The U.N. estimates five million people are in need of aid, with many rural areas increasingly difficult to reach by road due to the weather.

Huge warehouses of food aid stored for the rainy season have been looted, leading the U.N. World Food Program to begin delivering food and medical supplies through costly air drops. In places without an effective runway the sacks of food are simply dropped out of the back of giant cargo planes.

The head of the U.N. children’s agency in South Sudan, Jonathan Veitch, warned Friday of “worrying signs of malnutrition and disease outbreaks,” insisting that every effort should be made to “avert a humanitarian catastrophe.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 31, 2014, on page 9.
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Summary

More than a million people in South Sudan have been forced from their homes during more than three months of fighting, with conditions continuing to worsen, the United Nations has warned.

Over 800,000 people have been displaced inside South Sudan, while almost 255,000 have fled as refugees to neighboring countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, the U.N. said.

Violence erupted in South Sudan on December 15 between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and fighters loosely allied to former Vice President Riek Machar.

The U.N. estimates five million people are in need of aid, with many rural areas increasingly difficult to reach by road due to the weather.


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