At least 122 000 people in South Sudan have been driven from their homes in the past 12 days by the raging war, while some 63 000 have sought refuge at the UN bases, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said on Friday.
The war, which has since turned ethnic (Nuers versus Dinkas) and has since moved to oil-producing regions, has created a serious humanitarian crisis as regional leaders were scrambling for solutions to stop the world’s youngest nation from sliding into further chaos.
“Priorities for the response to the displaced are food, healthcare, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene services, protection and camp management,” UNMISS added.
Aid agencies will need US$166 million to respond to immediate needs until March, the UN said, adding that additional air assets and transport support were needed to enable the response.
However, the conflict could ease if the former vice-president Riek Machar, now turned into a reckless warlord, agrees to an immediate cease-fire as brokered by regional leaders headed by Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The UN, which revealed that it will increase the number of peacekeepers to nearly 14 000 in the war-torn nation, including police, said the first contingent of its ‘blue helmet’ troops has begun to arrive.
But, a South African analyst, Ayesha Kajee, of the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA), told Moon of the South: “Extra peacekeepers will be ineffective without an inclusive political solution. Kenya, Ethiopia and others trying to broker a deal must realise that there are atrocities on both sides and that their fellow head of state is by no means blameless.”
Two Indian UN peacekeepers have been killed recently in South Sudan, a setback that epitomises the difficulties and challenges the UN troops were facing to protect civilians and ‘keep the peace’ in a country awash with all sorts of weapons, after almost three decades of liberation war with its northern neighbour Sudan.
Photo by James Akena/Reuters/New York Times: South Sudan children displaced by war wait at a UN base near the international airport in Juba.