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Call for urgent action to avert South Sudan humanitarian crisis

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese are facing starvation, lack of drinking water and health care, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday, calling for urgent action to avert the humanitarian crisis.

Head of ICRC operations for Eastern Africa, Eric Marclay, said the humanitarian situation in the world’s youngest state is deteriorating rapidly.

"There is a desperate need for food and drinking water and access to health care.

"If the situation does not improve, the lives of hundreds of thousands of people are threatened," Marclay said in a statement received in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Heavy fighting in South Sudan’s Unity and Upper Nile states over the last two months has displaced more than 100,000 people and blocked aid delivery for some 650,000 people as humanitarian institutions have been forced to withdraw, according to United Nations refugee agency.

Since the beginning of the year, some 60,000 South Sudanese have fled the country, mostly to Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda, bringing the total number of people who escaped the country since December 2013 to 555,000.

Some 1.5 million are internally displaced, and more than 3.8 million—one third of the country’s population—do not have sufficient food.

The ICRC appealed to donors for an additional 23 million U.S. dollars to produce a total budget of 162 million dollars, saying more substantial effort is needed.

The institution aims to distribute food to up to 340,000 people though the initial plans were for 150,000, and to increase seed distributions and cattle vaccinations.

South Sudan is the ICRC’s second largest area of operation in the world, after Syria.

Marclay said there is an urgent need for civilians to be respected, unconditionally.

"Warring parties, the international community and aid agencies must take immediate, sustained and wide-ranging action," he said.

The situation is particularly severe in some of the regions in Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states, he added.

"Economic activity is minimal, food prices are rising and basic services, limited. The ICRC has been providing substantial support to local communities," Maclay said.

"We have received several reports of direct attacks on civilians.

"Our medical teams are performing life-saving surgery around the clock to cope with the influx of wounded.

"The humanitarian situation is deteriorating. Many people have been killed and wounded. Some people have been displaced for the second or third time," he added.


At least 78,000 people newly displaced by conflict in Darfur: senior UN official

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- It is estimated that at least 78,000 people have been newly displaced by conflict in Darfur this year due to Sudanese government’s military offensive against rebels, a senior UN official told the Security Council on Wednesday.

"The second phase of the government’s military offensive, ‘ Operation Decisive Summer’ has resulted in high numbers of newly displaced people," said Edmond Mulet, assistant secretary-general for UN peacekeeping operations.

"In addition, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs received reports of some 130,000 additional internal displaced persons but was not yet able to verify," he added.

Mulet said the security situation remained serious in Darfur with limited progress in the peace process, highlighting that the current year has seen inter-communal conflicts leading to periodic outbreaks of violence.

The Security Council convened Wednesday to have consultations on African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) . The mission was established on July 31, 2007 with the primary mandate of civilian protection and its current authorization is until June 30, 2015.

Moulet said the UN Secretariat, in agreement with the Council for Peace and Security of the African Union, has requested from the Security Council the extension of UNAMID’s mandate for an additional year, until June 2016.

He also mentioned that the exit strategy for UNAMID is based on the achievement of the mission’s benchmarks and premised on a political solution to the conflict based on direct talks between the parties, starting with a cessation of hostilities.

"The exist strategy is also based on the gradual and phased withdrawal of UNAMID’s force from West Darfur where there have not been any major activities by armed groups or inter-communal fighting in the past two years," he added.

Darfur region lies on the far west region of Sudan with a total area estimated at around 500,000 square km. It is considered Sudan ‘s western gate where the region shares joint borders with Libya, Chad and Central Africa Republic.

The region has seen growing tribal violence as the local tribes could easily obtain weapons, while many parts of the area have no effective governance.

For years, efforts have failed to end the tribal conflicts, which have become a nagging concern for local population and the authorities of the troubled region.


Violent tribal clashes displace refugees in western South Sudan

South Sudan fighting has displaced 100,000 in two months: UN



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