Fighting in South Sudan cuts off 100,000 people from aid

Wed Jul 17, 2013 2:16pm EDT
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By Andrew Green

JUBA (Reuters) - Fighting between government forces, rebels and rival tribes has cut off 100,000 people from urgently needed food and medical aid in South Sudan's east, U.N. and aid officials said on Wednesday.

South Sudan's army is facing a rebellion from local politician David Yau Yau in the vast Jonglei state, and new clashes have broken out between the rival Lou Nuer and Murle tribes.

Western powers are worried the violence will escalate into full civil war, undermining stability in the young African country, where weapons are plentiful after decades of conflict with Khartoum that led to its secession from Sudan in 2011.

U.N. humanitarian aid chief Valerie Amos said the new fighting made it impossible to supply some 100,000 people in Pibor county in Jonglei State with "life-saving assistance".

"The fighting is threatening the lives of ordinary people," Amos said in a statement. The United Nations did not have enough helicopters to deliver aid to Jonglei where overland travel is impossible in the rainy reason, she said.

Medicins sans Frontiers (MSF), one of the few aid groups operating in Jonglei, said more than 120,000 people had been forced to flee clashes between the army and Yau Yau rebels.

A United Nations source said armed Lou Nuer youth had attacked several Murle villages in the past two weeks. Fighters loyal to Yau Yau, who is popular with his Murle tribe, had come to help fight back.

Separate tribal clashes were also reported in Unity state, site of several oilfields. In one incident, attackers apparently burnt a hut in a village with a woman and three children inside, said a U.N. source, asking not to be named.   Continued...

A man, who was wounded during the fighting between South Sudan's army, rebels and rival tribes, is pushed on a stretcher after his admission at a hospital in Bor July 15, 2013. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu