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UN warns of ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ in S Sudan
August 14, 2014, 3:01 pm

Civilians sit after arriving at the compound of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), adjacent to Juba International Airport, to take refuge from the fighting [AP]

Civilians sit after arriving at the compound of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), adjacent to Juba International Airport, to take refuge from the fighting [AP]

The United Nations Security Council has reiterated a demand it made of warring factions in South Sudan to end their conflict and continue negotiations even as it warned that the country is on “on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe”.

The Council has said it would take all measures at its disposal – including sanctions – against any group which undermines the peace, stability and security of the country, and fails to meet negotiations in neighboring Ethiopia.

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, who is among a Security Council entourage that visited the capital Juba on Wednesday, said: “The international community will not tolerate the violation of the secession of hostility and the people who spoil the peace agreement people who commit growth violation of human rights must be held accountable.”

The stern warning came as international aid agencies said that nearly four million people in South Sudan are now facing malnutrition due to lack of food and clean water. The UN says that figure is higher, nearly seven million, with two million children already facing severe hunger.

Some 1.5 million civilians have been displaced by the fighting.

The UN says that unless urgent efforts are made to increase funds and humanitarian assistance to South Sudan, some 50,000 children could die of starvation by the end of 2014.

In April, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued an urgent appeal for monies saying that it had received less than $5 million to deal with hunger and famine in South Sudan; it says it needs another $38 million.

But last week, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned that “funding for life-saving assistance has dwindled” in South Sudan even though food security in the country is deteriorating”.

The US has said it would make an emergency donation of $180 million to boost humanitarian assistance provided to communities facing a food crisis.

Meanwhile, Security Council representatives met earlier this week with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President Riek Machar, who is now the leader of a rebel force fighting to seize control of the capital Juba.

Hostilities erupted late last year when formeMachar of the Nuer tribe was accused by Kiir – a member of the Dinka tribe – of orchestrating a coup.

The violence escalated when other supporters of the two men, from rival tribes, clashed in the capital Juba, which has since been stabilised by the South Sudan Army loyal to Kiir.

By February, fighting had spread to over 30 towns throughout South Sudan, and in late April, UN officials reported that radio stations were used to broadcast messages inciting ethnically-charged violence that led to the killing of hundreds in the city of Bentiu, capital of Unity State.

Since then, UN peace-keepers and international human rights groups have reported continued  human rights violations and abuses of international humanitarian law, “including those involving extrajudicial killings, ethnically targeted violence, sexual and gender-based violence, recruitment and use of children, and enforced disappearances”.

Source: Agencies

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