UN: UNICEF warns of malnutrition crisis in South Sudan

New York, US (PANA) - The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has warned that the surging violence in South Sudan is exacerbating an already "very dangerous" malnutrition crisis in the country.

UNICEF, in a statement obtained by PANA in New York on Wednesday, noted that, "children were killed in South Sudan during recent brutal attacks on displaced civilians or as a result of being recruited by armed groups."

It said that the children were among the dozens of internally-displaced persons (IDPs) attacked by gunmen on 17 April while sheltering at a UN site in the central South Sudanese town of Bor, capital of the strife-torn Jonglei state.

UNICEF spokesman, Mr. Christophe Boulierac, said in the statement that, "the exact numbers are currently being verified", adding that up to 23,000 people are currently sheltering at the UN base in Bentiu.

He also said: "Some of the children were killed either in direct attacks or as a result of being caught in the crossfire."

He noted that, over the past two months, thousands of people are believed to have been killed by fighting that began in mid-December 2013 following a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy president, Riek Machar.

"Since last Thursday, as fresh violence swept towns in the northern and central parts of the country, clashes and reprisal attacks have forced thousands of people to seek refuge at the bases of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)," the statement stressed.

It added: "This is fierce, brutal infantry fighting – children must not be instruments of this conflict and those in positions of command and leadership have a duty to keep children out of harm's way and take all necessary measures to prevent children being part of armed groups and forces."

Meanwhile, UNMISS has strongly condemned the violence, in which hundreds of civilians are thought to have been killed or injured, and which is believed to have been motivated by ethnicity and nationality.

The fighting is also linked to a series of attacks in Bentiu town on hundreds of people in who hid in a hospital, mosque and church, and a UN World Food Programme (WFP) compound.

The Mission is sheltering some 75,000 civilians throughout the country.

According to a UN spokesperson, the Mission reported that many dead bodies remain by the side of the main road between Bentiu and Rubkona and that the Rubkona market has been repeatedly looted.

UNMISS also said that, last Thursday, four rockets were directed at the Mission's base in Bentiu, including two that exploded within the compound and one just outside.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 23April2014

23 april 2014 13:54:05




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