The United Nations is asking donors for $1.27 billion in aid for 3.2 million people in South Sudan who’ve been hardest hit by fighting between government and rebel forces since mid-December.
The violence in the world’s newest nation has forced almost 900,000 people to flee their homes and killed or wounded thousands, according to the UN. International agencies need to get the aid into the countryside before the rainy season starts in March, the UN humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, told reporters today in Juba, South Sudan’s capital.
“The priority is to save lives now, and ensure that we have food, medicine and other lifesaving supplies prepositioned in the field, in easy reach of aid agencies before the rains hit and the roads become impassable,” Lanzer said.
Violence erupted in South Sudan when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup, a charge Machar denies. Fighting spread to other parts of the oil- producing country, pitting members of Kiir’s Dinka community against those of Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.
Two sides signed a cease-fire last month and are scheduled to resume talks on a political settlement on Feb. 7 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
South Sudan, which gained independence in July 2011, has sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest oil reserves, according to data from BP Plc. Companies including China National Petroleum Corp. and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp. have evacuated employees from South Sudan because of the violence.