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At least 16 killed during fresh fighting in Wau towns South Sudan

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- At least 16 civilians have been killed and ten others injured in South Sudan’s northwestern town of Wau following sporadic fighting between government-backed militia and local youth, the UN mission said Monday.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said the fighting started after a number of government SPLA soldiers were killed in an ambush on Sunday in the south of Wau.

"The Mission mounted two patrols into Wau on Monday and said it had observed the bodies of 16 civilians in a hospital.

"There were ten people who had been injured," the UNMISS said in a statement.

The UN mission said 84 people have arrived at the UN protection of civilian site, while an influx of at least 3,000 people into a Catholic church in the town, mostly women and children, has been reported.

"The fighting follows the movement of SPLA troops, tanks and equipment towards the southwestern part of Wau late last week," UNMISS said.

South Sudan has been devastated by civil strife that broke out in December 2013.

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, with over 2 million displaced since then.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 led to the formation of a transitional unity government, but was again shattered by fresh violence in July, 2016.


South Sudanese resort to extreme methods to survive famine

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- More than three years of conflict, displacement and hunger in South Sudan have forced many communities in the war-torn country to resort to extreme coping methods such as eating tree leaves, roots and wild fruits to survive starvation.

In a bright sunny day in Thonyor, Leer County in South Sudan’s former Unity State, Mary Nyarach, a mother of five has been queuing for nearly three hours at a seed distribution center where she is waiting to receive seeds and farm tools to enable her to plan for the next planting season.

Nyarach hopes to grow fast-growing vegetables such as okra and pumpkins to allow her to take a break from eating tree leafs, water lilies, papyrus roots and wild fruits that she has been surviving on for the past four months.

Nyarach is among thousands of people facing starvation in northern South Sudan where a localized famine was declared in February by the government and the UN.

She told Xinhua during a visit on Tuesday that together with her three young children had left the swamps in March after spending nearly four months there following an armed raid in her village of Dindin in December 2016.

"We depend on the wild fruits and leaves and sometimes if humanitarian agencies bring us food, we combine it with leaves. But if the little food assistance fails or delays, we survive on wild fruits and leafs as an alternative," Nyarach said.

Nyarach said she would return to her village if their stability and peace, adding that peace will be the only thing to enable her family to restore their lost livelihoods.

"This year if there is calmness and stability, we can go back to our villages then we start cultivating.

"This relief that is coming to our area, how long will it continue coming?

"We need peace and stability to go back so that we go and start over again," she said.

Another 45-year old Nyageng Nyuen also shares Nyarach’s sentiments of eating leaves and wild fruits to sustain their lives.

She said that life has become worse since renewed fighting erupted in Juba and spread across the East African nation in July 2016.

"We eat water lilies, papyrus and sometimes we go fishing, which is the only way of surviving in the swamps," Nyuen said.

"We have undergone a difficult time within the three years of fighting.

"We always run to the swamps to hide ourselves and children and there we don’t have shelter and food.

"We have lost our livestock, houses and children," she added.

Nyachuong Khalifa, 28-year-old mother of five who lost her husband to the civil war in 2016, said her family lost every possession to gunmen who raided villages of livestock, women and sometimes food.

"Before the conflict, we had surplus to eat, to sell and we also have so many livestock to earn a living.

"But our cows were all raided in 2014.

"I don’t have anything to survive on.

"This is a situation that we didn’t expect," Khalifa said.

"When the gunmen come, they us you to harvest what is the garden if you fail, they beat you or even rape you, but for men they are just killed, and that is how my husband was killed in 2016," she added.

"But we are not able to farm due to the conflict.

"Our husbands who used to dig the dykes to prevent the floods have been killed or are fighting.

"No one can protect us from the floods now," she said.

South Sudan has been embroiled in more than three years of conflict that has taken a devastating toll on the people of South Sudan.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 led to the formation of a transitional unity government in April, but was again shattered by fresh violence in July, 2016.

According to UN estimates, the conflict has displaced 1.5 million into neighboring countries and another 7.5 million people across the country are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.

In February, a localized famine was declared in parts of the world’s newest country, with some 100,000 people, nearly half of the population, in dire need of food aid.

Experts have also warned that the increase in insecurity, attacks on aid workers and convoys could increase risks of famine following recent killing of aid workers and restrictions along relief supplies routes.


Biting hunger forces South Sudanese to eat leaves to survive: aid agency

JUBA (Xinhua) -- South Sudanese are resorting to extreme coping techniques of eating leaves from trees as food runs out even in crisis areas where famine has not been declared, a humanitarian aid agency said on Monday.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said children and others in a community outside Aweil Center County in the north of the country where its staff visited are surviving on trees and seed stocks.

NRC’s Country Director in South Sudan, Rehana Zawar said eating barely edible wild foods is a coping strategy for communities trying to survive a food crisis.

"The bitter leaves eaten by families we spoke to are from the Lalop tree, and have limited nutritional value.

"When families eat these leaves and little else, malnutrition quickly follows," Zawar said in a statement.

The charity said the emergency teams on the ground have helped support more than 100,000 people affected by the food crisis since the declaration of famine in parts of the country.

According to UN, insecurity and lack of access have complicated an already worrying situation as more than 100,000 people face starvation in the famine-declared parts of the country, and a further one million are on the brink of famine.

There are also fears that by the height of the lean season in July, some 5.5 million people could face severe food insecurity across the country.

Additionally, since December 2013, about 3.4 million people have been displaced, including about 1.5 million who fled as refugees to neighbouring countries

NRC said food crisis has hit Amothic in Aweil Centre County hard, noting that while famine has already been declared in Leer and Mayendit counties to the south, villages outside Aweil are also running out of food.

Formerly known as the state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, the counties which make up this region are currently in the crisis phase or emergency phase of food security; the latter is one level short of famine.

This region previously was the site of a famine in 1998.

Zawar said international donors need to provide more funding for emergency aid for South Sudan to stop the famine and food crisis escalating.

"We have a catastrophe occurring right before our eyes, and the time to act and stop this crisis from spreading is now," she said.

The aid agency said the consumption of seeds is especially alarming in areas where famine has already hit as some families have been eating wild water lilies, or seeds to survive.

"Without seeds for cultivation, families will have nothing to plant for the next growing season.

"This could worsen the food crisis, and threaten to spread the famine to adjacent areas," the charity said.

Across much of the country, household access to food and cash income has declined as conflict has disrupted planting, harvesting and other livelihood activities, according to food security experts, FEWSNet.

Families are fleeing the region in search of food, with many crossing into Sudan.

Over 35,000 people have already fled South Sudan and crossed the border to Sudan this year, according to UNHCR.

The aid appeal for South Sudan requires 1.6 billion U.S. dollars to support people in need.

So far only 18 percent of the appeal has been funded.

Fresh clashes erupt in South Sudan’s Wau

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Fresh gun fire erupted Monday morning in South Sudan’s north-western town of Wau between a government backed-militia and local youths.

Daniel Dickinson, spokesman for the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said the Mission has dispatched a peacekeeping team to patrol Wau town following clashes which erupted this morning.

"Gunfire erupted in the morning until around 9 AM and we still have no more details for now. We shall give more details until the patrol team come back," Dickinson said told Xinhua by phone.

Andrea Mayar, Wau State governor confirmed that there were clashes in the town, but declined to give more details.

South Sudan has been devastated by civil war that broke out in December 2013 after President Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup. Machar denied the accusation but then mobilized a rebel force.

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, with over 2 million displaced since December 2013.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 led to the formation of a transitional unity government in April 2016, but was again shattered by fresh violence three months later.

Sudan reiterates moral commitment to people of South Sudan

KHARTOUM Sudan (Xinhua) -- Sudan on Monday reiterated its moral commitment toward the people of South Sudan affected with famine and vowed more efforts for security and stability in South Sudan.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry on Monday welcomed a statement by the members of the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States) in which it commended Sudan’s stances toward the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.

"The ministry expresses appreciation over the Troika statement which welcomed the Government of Sudan’s opening of its border crossings for the delivery of humanitarian food assistance to South Sudanese citizens affected by war and famine, its acceptance of over 360,000 South Sudanese refugees and provision of food assistance from its strategic stock for the affected from those conditions," said the statement.

"The ministry reiterates Sudan’s moral commitment toward the people of South Sudan together with its determination to continue its efforts to achieve security and stability in brotherly South Sudan," it noted.

On March 26, Khartoum agreed on opening a new corridor to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of South Sudan.

Additionally, the Sudanese Presidency has directed handing over of 10,000 tonnes of sorghum in support of the humanitarian operation implemented by the United Nations for the citizens of South Sudan.

According to official statistics last February, around 495,000 South Sudanese are present in Sudan.

Recently famine was officially declared in South Sudan.

The South Sudanese government and the UN said 100,000 people facing starvation, with one million people classified as being on the brink of famine.

The famine was attributed to many reasons including the civil war and collapse of the economy in the new-born state.




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