South Sudan humanitarian situation could worsen: UN
04 August 2016, 16:55
Juba - Millions of South Sudanese made homeless, hungry or both
from a fresh eruption of violence are in desperate need of more assistance, the
United Nation's humanitarian chief has said.
O'Brien, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,
said on a three-day visit to South Sudan that he feared the situation in the
world's newest country - where renewed fighting in July killed more than 300
people - could worsen.
South Sudan was founded with optimistic celebrations in the
capital on July 9, 2011, after it gained independence from Sudan in a
referendum that passed with nearly 100% of the vote.
The country descended into conflict in December 2013 after President
Salva Kiir accused First Vice President Riek Machar of plotting a coup.
Civil war broke out when soldiers from Kiir's Dinka ethnic group
disarmed and targeted troops of Machar's Nuer ethnic group. Machar and
commanders loyal to him fled to the countryside, and tens of thousands of
people died in the conflict that followed. Many civilians also starved.
The rivals signed a peace agreement late last year, under which
Machar was once again made vice president.
But renewed fighting has seen Machar go into hiding, and a member
of his opposition - Taban Deng Gai - take his place as First Vice President.
Machar rejects the appointment, while Kiir has no objection.
The latest setbacks are putting the fragile peace plan at risk.
UN says that close to five million people are hungry, and South Sudan's high
inflation rate makes steep food prices unaffordable to many.
Up to 60
000 people have fled to neighbouring Uganda, the UN says. About 1.6 million are
Could get worse before it improves
humanitarian situation here, as elsewhere in South Sudan, has the danger of
getting worse before it can get better," O'Brien said at a medical centre
in Aweil. "It is up to us now to partner with the people of South Sudan to
have a future and to have hope."
that the country's transport links were challenging and that "feeder
roads", which are essential to infrastructure, "aren't there".
between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to his rival, the
former Vice President Riek Machar, is ongoing.
Jazeera's Hiba Morgan, reporting from Aweil, said: "There is also evidence
of armed groups [in Wau] looting villages, murdering civilians, and forcing
young men and boys to join them."
hunger crisis is so acute, Morgan said, that some people had left their homes
simply to find food.
medical centre in Aweil, Regina Mayeul,
the mother of three-year-old Ayak, who
weighs less than half the average weight, told Al Jazeera: "Life has
become hard; there is no money for me to buy things from the market except for some
get that and give it to her [Ayak] but she [has] started suffering from
anaemia. We had to go to the bush to find food. I just want my kids to have
food and something to drink but I have no job."
Deng Deng, head of the city's health ministry, said: "Our threshold is
supposed to be less than 50% or 50%, but now it's double. It's almost a 100%.
This is an indication of the worsening conditions especially on malnutrition