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Joined by Rajiv Shah, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Kristalina Georgieva, the European Union (EU) Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Amos said that tens of thousands of civilians have been affected by conflict, displacement and food insecurity.
The security situation in South Sudan began to deteriorate on December 15 when President Salva Kiir accused his former Vice-President (and now greatest rival) Riek Machar of masterminding a coup attempt. Some reports said that members of the Presidential Guard loyal to Machar engaged in a gun battle with security forces supporting Kir.
Hostilities erupted when other supporters of the two men, from rival tribes, clashed in the capital Juba, which has since been stabilised by the South Sudan Army loyal to Kiir.
By February, fighting had spread to over 30 towns throughout South Sudan.
“The effects of the conflict are significant– millions of people have been affected, cities have been destroyed, the economy has collapsed and food production has been devastated,” she said in a joint statement released later.
Despite the presence of some 8,000 UN peacekeepers in South Sudan, at least a million people have fled their homes since the conflict began.
The UN fears that more than three million people may be at risk of starvation.
On Friday, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued an urgent appeal for monies saying that it had received less than $5 million to deal with hunger and famine in South Sudan; it says it needs another $38 million.
UNICEF data shows that up to 50,000 children will die of starvation this year and some 250,000 will be afflicted with severe malnutrition if help is not immediately provided.
“We fear a serious food and nutrition crisis in the next few months if the situation doesn’t improve soon,” Amos said of the situation.
According to the UN News Service, the Ministerial Meeting issued a Call for Action on South Sudan. It demands an end to the fighting, highlights the urgent need for financial assistance for humanitarian aid in the next few months, and for a respect for humanitarian law.
On Saturday, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced a further $7.8 million for humanitarian assistance in South Sudan. Some $5 million will be earmarked for funding to the UN World Food Programme and $2.8 million will be directed to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to provide South Sudanese civilians who have fled to neighbouring countries with healthcare, shelter and sanitation, among other assistance.