March 22, 2014

UN Aid Blocked In South Sudan – Official

A South Sudanese child receives a dose of vitamin A at a refugee camp in the country on March 5, 2014.
A South Sudanese child receives a dose of vitamin A at a refugee camp in the country on March 5, 2014.

Food and medicine shipments are being blocked by warring parties in South Sudan, a United Nations official says.

John Ging, director of operations for the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), said at a press conference in the South Sudanese capital Juba on Friday that about 50 trucks carrying some 2,000 tons of urgent aid supplies were stuck throughout the country.

Ging blamed both sides of the conflict for delaying aid by demanding paperwork or erecting multiple roadblocks.

“There are too many checkpoints, there are too many delays,” Ging said, adding, “Assistance is urgently needed, people are hungry. People are in need of urgent medical life-saving assistance, children need nutritional supplements. They cannot wait.”

The UN official called on rebels and the government to allow aid delivery, adding, “We have food in the country here and we need to get it” to thousands of civilians, who have fled violence in the country.

“We are in a life-saving business, there is no reason to delay,” Ging stated.

Thousands of people have been killed and many others displaced by more than three months of fighting between government troops and rebel forces loyal to the former vice president, Riek Machar.

The fighting between troops of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, who is from the Dinka ethnic group, and Machar, a Nuer, erupted around Juba on December 15, 2013.

The conflict soon turned into an all-out war between the army and defectors, with the violence taking on an ethnic dimension that pitted the president’s tribe against Machar’s.

The violence continues in South Sudan despite a ceasefire signed on January 23 to end weeks of heavy fighting in the world’s youngest nation.

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