South Sudan fighting forces tens of thousands to flee, warns Red Cross

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Renewed fighting has left displaced communities at greater risk of sexual violence and food insecurity, the UN-partner organisation says. Photo: UN / Martine Perret

Tens of thousands of people in South Sudan have been forced to flee fighting just as the country's crucial planting season gets under way, the Red Cross warned Monday.

Violence in the towns of Leer in Unity State and in Kodok in Upper Nile state has affected civilians initially displaced by fighting roughly a year ago, the UN partner organization said in a statement.

After appealing to warring parties not to target civilians, the Red Cross said the fresh upheaval would "no doubt" impact on their ability to plant crops and feed their families.

Daniel Johnson has more.

The fresh outbreak of fighting has caused fresh waves of displacement and left an estimated 100,000 people hiding in "unimaginably difficult conditions", Red Cross workers say.

According to the UN partner organization, their plight is likely to worsen "day by day".

The development comes at a particularly bad time for the people of South Sudan, just as the planting season gets under way.

Red Cross workers in the country say they've had to put regular activities on hold and reduce staff numbers in the town of Leer, where the organization has one of its largest food distribution operations.

There's also particular concern for those forced to flee the outbreak of hostilities, since they were already displaced by fighting in oil-rich Unity state about a year ago.

Another wave of civilians has been displaced in Upper Nile state by fighting, Red Cross says. The worsening situation also forced the organization to move its base from Kodok to Oriny.

Red Cross warns that the more fighting in South Sudan expands, the more that the vulnerable will suffer from the risk of sexual violence, lack of food and medicine or forced conscription of the young.

Fighting in South Sudan started in December 2013, between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1'12"

 

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