"Immediately silence the guns" in South Sudan: UN Humanitarian chief

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UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien meets women displaced by recent fighting in Wau, South Sudan. Photo: IOM/Mohammed

The warring parties which threaten to throw South Sudan back into brutal civil war need to "immediately silence the guns" and "allow civilians to live in peace".

That's the passionate plea from UN Humanitarian Affairs chief, Stephen O'Brien, speaking on Wednesday at the end of three-day visit to the world's youngest country.

Since early July, a renewal of heavy fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former First Vice President, Riek Machar , has sparked a political and humanitarian crisis.

Matthew Wells has more.

Speaking to the press in the capital, Juba, the UN's Humanitarian and Emergency Relief Coordinator said that the people of South Sudan had "suffered far too much" and that there was no military solution to the political and ethnic-based violence that has been unleashed again in recent weeks.

He said he had met the President and his most senior officials, and expressed his "shock and dismay" at the treatment of civilians, including "heinous acts of sexual violence" inflicted on women and girls "by members of the armed forces."

"I also reiterated the need for humanitarians to be granted free, safe and unhindered access to all people in need, wherever they may be and for humanitarian workers and their assets, to be treated with respect. There is no military solution to this conflict. The fighting must stop and the atrocities must end immediately. I call on all armed actors to immediately silence the guns, end the culture of impunity and allow civilians to live in peace."

Mr O'Brien said the number of aid workers killed in South Sudan since December 2013 was now 57 and many more were missing.

Despite the violence and civilian suffering, he added that aid workers had reached more than 2.8 million this year with assistance and protection.

But he reminded journalists that more than two million had fled their homes since civil war erupted and across the country, 4.8 million were "severely food insecure."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'24"

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