UN agency chiefs visit South Sudan amid "spiralling" humanitarian crisis

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Displaced women and children under a hot sun in South Sudan’s Maban County, where food shortages are causing tension.© UNHCR/P.Rulashe

Senior UN relief officials have arrived in South Sudan to meet conflict-affected people and review the response and needs there.

The World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) say the visit by their heads comes amid the "alarming" spread of hunger and displacement since the conflict erupted in mid-December.

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric has more.

"More than 800,000 people have been displaced in South Sudan by the conflict, which flared up on 15 December of last year. This includes 68,000 people who are sheltering in UN peacekeeping bases. A further 254,000 refugees have crossed into neighbouring countries seeking shelter and food. The WFP Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, will spend two days in South Sudan to meet displaced people, partners and local authorities, before crossing over the border to meet some of the more than 80,000 refugees that are currently in Ethiopia."

More than half a million people have received food aid in the country, but continued conflict combined with the onset of the rainy season has made it difficult to reach people in need, the two agencies noted.

The relief effort, however, has been further hampered by a severe lack of funds.

Meanwhile, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has received $13.7 million in emergency funding by the United Kingdom to help conflict-affected families in South Sudan restore their farming livelihoods.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’40″

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