UN humanitarian chief sees "absolute devastation" in South Sudan town

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Dec 2013, Juba, South Sudan: People made homeless by fighting in South Sudan line up to register for aid at a UN compound in Juba, South Sudan. More than 500,000 people have been displaced by fighting that began in December 2013. Credit: OCHA

The head of UN humanitarian operations has been talking of the "absolute devastation" she has witnessed in the South Sudanese town of Malakal.

On her second day in the conflict-torn country on Tuesday, Valerie Amos visited the capital of Upper Nile State situated about 500 km  north of the capital Juba.

The conflict between government and rebel forces has forced nearly 76,000 people to seek shelter at eight UN bases around the new country.

Ms. Amos says she has been struck by what she has seen in Malakal.

"The first thing that I was struck by was the absolute devastation in the town, the way that whole areas of the town had been burnt out, the market area completely destroyed and then to visit the teaching hospital and see the thousands of people taking shelter there and in unbelievably dire circumstances and, of course, 26,000 people taking shelter in the base of the UN peacekeeping force here in South Sudan." (29")

Valerie Amos said people are scared and don't want to leave the UN bases unless they are relocated to another country.

She stressed the need for reconciliation to guarantee their safety and security.

The UN humanitarian chief also warned of a potential health hazard in the informal camps where there are too many people without enough water or food.

Derrick Mbatha, United Nations



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