Humanitarian crisis in South Sudan 'rapidly escalating': UN relief chief

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In South Sudan, a mother kisses her baby, who is suffering from severe acute malnutrition with complications, including tuberculosis. Photo: UNICEF/Sebastian Rich

The humanitarian crisis in South Sudan is rapidly escalating, and hunger and malnutrition have reached new disturbing levels, the UN relief chief has warned.

Stephen O'Brien made the remarks after concluding a two-day visit to Africa's newest nation.

He called for "immediate and unhindered access" to people in need of aid as well as funding for the US$ 1.6 billion humanitarian appeal.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

The UN declared a famine in parts of South Sudan on 20 February.

During a visit to the country, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, travelled to Ganyiel town to meet with people who fled fighting and famine in Leer and Mayendit counties in Unity State.

Hundreds of thousands of people in South Sudan will starve unless aid workers gain access to needy populations and more funding is raised, he urged.

Leer is also the birthplace of former Vice-President Riek Machar who was sacked by President Salva Kiir back in July 2013.

Forces loyal to the two politicians have been battling for control of the country.

Fighting, insecurity and lack of access to aid have left some 100,000 people facing starvation and a further 1 million on the brink of famine.

Mr O'Brien said that "millions of people" were not receiving aid because of the parties to the conflict, adding that it was "immoral, unlawful and unacceptable."

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’02”


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