UN decries huge humanitarian needs in S. Sudan amid 3-year fighting

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The UN humanitarian agency on Thursday decried continued fighting in South Sudan which it said has brought enormous humanitarian challenges since the fighting erupted three years ago.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said conflict, insecurity and economic decline have taken a massive toll on the world's youngest nation since fighting erupted on December 15, 2013.

According to OCHA, the fighting has left tens of thousands dead and 3 million driven from their homes, including over 1.8 million who are internally displaced (with 50 percent estimated to be children) and more than 1.3 million refugees in neighboring countries.

"Three years of conflict and economic decline have made millions of South Sudanese more susceptible to disease," OCHA said in its latest report.

The report said more than 2 million cases of malaria had been reported from January to November, an increase compared to the same period in 2015. The cholera outbreak in 2016 caused more cases (3,525) and spread to more locations (9) than in 2015.

"Food insecurity and acute malnutrition are at unprecedented levels. At the height of the lean season in July, some 4.8 million people were estimated to be severely food insecure, and this number is expected to rise in the year ahead," it said.

The situation is particularly difficult in locations where towns are controlled by one party to the conflict and surrounded by another.

For instance, in Yei (Central Equatoria province) and in Wau (Western Bahr el Ghazal province) tens of thousands are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance.

According to food security partners, chronic food deficits have been experienced in Great Upper Nile due to conflict and insecurity, including cattle raiding.

OCHA noted that Northern Bahr el Ghazal has also seen a major food security and nutrition crisis, driven by market failure and the depletion of livelihood assets, which is undermining traditional social safety nets.

In the Greater Equatoria region, renewed violence since July has significantly disrupted food supply routes, and an estimated 50 per cent of all harvests have been lost in areas affected by violence.

"Violations continue to be reported against civilians on a regular basis. More than 17,000 children are estimated to have been recruited by armed actors, including some 1,300 recruited in 2016. Civilians arriving as refugees into neighboring countries report horrific abuses, including rape, abduction and killing," OCHA said. Endit

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