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Aid Groups Rush Food Relief to South Sudan's Jonglei State

The UN warns that the cycle of violence in Jonglei state must be stopped as the most recent victims of violence are brought humanitarian aid.
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A water point at a refugee camp in South Sudan. Photograph by John Ferguson/Oxfam.

In a report released yesterday, the United Nations said that humanitarian aid is being rushed to victims of violent conflict in Jonglei, South Sudan’s largest state. Last month, armed rebels killed more than 100 people in a cattle raid, and the UN estimates that over 2,600 people were killed in Jonglei between January 2011 and September 2012. The fighting between the South Sudanese forces and a group of rebels, believed to be led by David Yau Yau, a former member of the South Sudanese army, has had a devastating effect on the humanitarian situation. 

The UN reported that “inter-agency assessments in Akobo East, Akobo West in Jonglei state and Ulang in Upper Nile confirmed that 23,350 individuals were affected and are in need of humanitarian assistance”. This included nutritional supplements to children under five years of age in Akobo East. Beyond Jonglei, 120 metric tons of food was also brought into Ulang, in Upper Nile state, to feed 10,500 people.

The violence was just the latest round of internal conflict in Jonglei. The UN "is also assisting 19,000 civilians in Pibor County whose lives have been at risk due to inter-communal violence and hostilities between the army and non-state armed actors in the past months", reported Toby Lanzer, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan.

"During my recent visit to Akobo and Pibor, I met communities who are living in fear of what may happen over the coming weeks”, Lanzer added. “I am deeply concerned about the increasing threats to civilians in Jonglei."

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to South Sudan, Hilde F. Johnson, commented that, "These reoccurring spates of violence are extremely serious and can jeopardise everything that has been achieved so far for peace and reconciliation in Jonglei. I am very worried, and strongly urge immediate action to be taken by government and community leaders to ensure stability. The cycle of violence must stop."

The conflict in Jonglei has exacerbated widespread hunger in an area already suffering from extreme food insecurity. The UN is moving supplies into Jonglei's Pibor County ahead of the rainy season, while UN peacekeepers provided an escort for the food deliveries.

“Pibor is cut off for eight months of the year so we have a very small window of opportunity to bring in as many supplies as possible”, explained Andrew Jackson, a UN World Food Programme logistics officer. “We believe that this aid will have a tremendous impact to save the lives of vulnerable people in the region.”

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