Thousands of lives saved by UN in South Sudan

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Hilde F. Johnson. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Thousand of lives have been saved in South Sudan as a result of the United Nations opening its compounds to civilians escaping violence.

That's according to the UN's top envoy to the country, Hilde Johnson.

Government forces have been battling rebels loyal to the former Vice-President Riek Machar since December last year.

Over one million people have been forced to flee their homes because of ongoing fighting and a further 400,000 have become refugees in neighbouring countries.

The UN opened nine of its compounds to civilians and there are now 100,000 people sheltering there.

Ms Johnson is the Special Representative for the Secretary-General in South Sudan.

“This is a huge undertaking. It is not something that we have been seeking, it is something that we felt obliged to do to help save lives. We do believe that it stemmed the cycle of violence which could have had untold consequences in getting totally out of control and we also do know that we saved thousands of people’s lives.”  (23″)

The warring parties are currently working towards establishing an interim transitional unity government.

Ms Johnson has been at the helm of the UN mission, UNMISS, following its establishment in July 2011, when the country gained its independence from Sudan.

She is coming to the end of her mandate in early July.

Sophie Outhwaite, United Nations

Duration:  1’28″


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