Humanitarian chief appeals for end to South Sudan conflict

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USG for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator speaks on South Sudan. UN Photo/Rick Bajorna

Areas of South Sudan that were "beacons of hope" just a year ago are now mired in conflict or facing severe food insecurity, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Stephen O'Brien told journalists in New York on Wednesday.

Mr O'Brien was briefing on his recent visit to the country, which took him to the north-western cities of Wau and Aweil.

South Sudan became independent five years ago, making it the world's youngest nation.

However, many of those years have been marred by fighting between forces loyal to the President and his former deputy, forcing more than two million people to flee their homes.

Dianne Penn reports.

Mr O'Brien saw first-hand how the worsening humanitarian situation in South Sudan, as well as fighting that broke out in early July, have had an impact on civilians.

He met displaced women in Wau who spoke of rape, killings and other abuses, while in Aweil he encountered a mother so malnourished she could not breastfeed her infant daughter. 

"In July 2015, both of these locations were seen as beacons of hope and prospects for development. Today, one is mired in conflict and the other is facing the worst food insecurity it has seen in many, many years – and is at real risk of getting worse, despite the incredible work of humanitarian organizations. But Wau and Aweil are just the tip of the iceberg."

Mr O'Brien stated that South Sudan's people "have suffered far too much."

He called on all warring parties "to immediately silence the guns, end the culture of impunity, and allow civilians to live in peace."

He also urged the international community to work to avert even more tragedy in South Sudan.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’15″

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