S/Sudan on brink of famine: UN chief

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ban Ki-Moon says up to one mil­lion will starve un­less there is im­me­di­ate ac­tion, as rebels an­nounce gains in oil ar­eas.

The UN has given warn­ing that up to a mil­lion people could face famine in con­flict-torn South Sudan un­less there is im­me­di­ate ac­tion, with rebels tak­ing con­trol of oil rich ar­eas and threat­en­ing the cap­i­tal, Juba.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN sec­re­tary gen­eral, said on Wed­nes­day that “life and death’’ is­sues were fac­ing the world’s new­est na­tion: “fight­ing, mal­nu­tri­tion and dire hu­man­i­tar­ian con­di­tions”.

He said “mil­lions are go­ing hun­gry to­day’’ and the UN was see­ing ex­tremely high lev­els of mal­nu­tri­tion among hun­dreds of thou­sands of people dis­placed by the con­flict, es­pe­cially women and chil­dren.

South Sudan has been swept by vi­o­lence since De­cem­ber, when fight­ing broke out be­tween troops loyal to the pres­i­dent, Salva Kiir, and his for­mer deputy Riek Machar.

Rebels on Wed­nes­day said they had seized the cap­i­tal of oil-pro­duc­ing Unity state, Ben­tiu, and have warned oil firms to pack up and leave within a week.

“The re­cap­tur­ing of Ben­tiu marks the first phase of lib­er­a­tion of oil fields from [the] anti-demo­cratic and geno­ci­dal forces of Kiir,” Lul Ruai Koang, a rebel spokesman, said in a state­ment quoted by the Reuters news agency.

Machar said on Mon­day that his forces would move on the cap­i­tal, Juba, to re­move Kiir, whom he de­scribed as “the dic­ta­tor”.

Thou­sands are be­lieved to have been killed, and more than one mil­lion people have fled their homes in the fight­ing.

A cease­fire signed in Jan­uary has been bro­ken fre­quently and peace talks in Ethiopian cap­i­tal Ad­dis Ababa have stalled of­ten. The US, the UK, the EU and Nor­way have threat­ened mea­sures against the coun­try’s ri­val sides.

Last month, the US pres­i­dent, Barack Obama, au­tho­rised pos­si­ble tar­geted sanc­tions against those com­mit­ting hu­man rights abuses or un­der­min­ing democ­racy and ob­struct­ing the peace process. Aljazeera

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