Violence puts South Sudan close to catastrophe - UN

2014-08-07 10:14
A child with suspected malnutrition is weighed at IMC nutrition programme clinic in Malakal, South Sudan. ( Matthew Abbott, AP)

A child with suspected malnutrition is weighed at IMC nutrition programme clinic in Malakal, South Sudan. ( Matthew Abbott, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - A top UN official on Wednesday told the Security Council that a fresh wave of violence in South Sudan is dragging the world's youngest country closer to a "humanitarian catastrophe" as the global body bolsters its military presence there.

Edmond Mulet, the UN assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, warned council members that militia violence in South Sudan has displaced more than a million people. Almost 500 000 more have fled across borders.

The widespread displacement has been compounded by hunger and food problems. Almost 4 million people are at risk of going hungry amid growing concerns of famine, Mulet said. Up to 50 000 children are at risk of dying of acute malnutrition this year alone.

A cholera epidemic worsens, with 5 300 cases and 115 deaths, Mulet added.

"After three years of independence, South Sudan is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe and a protracted internal conflict", Mulet said. "This is a man-made crisis, and those responsible for it have been slow in resolving it."

The Security Council plans to visit South Sudan next week.

South Sudan Ambassador Joseph Moum Malok said his government was committed to reaching a "final settlement for the conflict through negotiation" but that it has also been "forced to react in self-defence to protect its citizens."


Peace talks between South Sudan's government and rebel fighters in Ethiopia were restarted on Monday with the aim of creating a transitional government, but they have yet to yield any breakthroughs following fresh clashes along the South Sudan-Sudan border.

Some believe the violence threatens to pull Sudan and its rebel groups into South Sudan's civil war.

A militia hunting the Nuer ethnic group has been blamed for the deaths of at least six South Sudanese aid workers in recent days. All of the murdered aid workers are members of the Nuer, to which former vice president and current rebel leader Riek Machar belongs.

Fighting broke out in December after President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, accused Machar of trying to oust him in a coup. That sparked months of ethnic attacks and failed cease-fires.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US ambassador Samantha Power said in separate statements on Wednesday that "there is no military solution" to the crisis in South Sudan while pressing for a peaceful resolution. They also condemned the killing of the aid workers.

In an effort to stop the violence, a massive humanitarian effort has begun to take root, Mulet said.

Armored personnel carriers are en route to Bunj, the epicentre of the violence, to protect UN personnel, aid workers and civilians inside UN facilities. More than 3 500 UN troops, out of an authorised total of 5 500, have been deployed.

An infantry battalion, military helicopters and additional aircraft are expected to follow by October. Four police units will reach South Sudan in some six months.

"The scale of humanitarian operations in South Sudan has reached the point that it now constitutes the biggest aid operation in any single country", Mulet said.

Still, people are leaving. The UN mission in South Sudan reports that a 220 people working for the U.N. and non-governmental organizations were flown out of Bunj on Wednesday. More people were expected to be evacuated.

South Sudan is a largely Christian nation that broke off from the Muslim-dominated Sudan after a 2011 referendum.

Read more on:    un  |  salva kiir  |  ban ki-moon  |  south sudan  |  east africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.