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BRUSSELS, January 16. /ITAR-TASS/. The European Union voiced concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in South Sudan and called for an immediate end to all hostilities and violence in the country.
“The EU is particularly preoccupied by the deteriorating humanitarian situation and reports of large-scale human rights violations. According to latest estimates, at least 10 000 people have been killed and more than 400 000 are now internally displaced in South Sudan, while close to 50 000 people are seeking refuge, or being registered, in neighbouring countries,” the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, and Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development, said in a joint statement on Thursday, January 16.
They said they were “very saddened” by the information of a boat accident in which reportedly more than 200 civilians, many of them women and children, may have lost their lives while fleeing the violence in Malakal, South Sudan. “Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims,” the commissioners said.
They deplored the loss of innocent lives which causes suffering to countless families.
“This dramatic event is a demonstration of the risks desperate and fearful people are willing to take. It is the responsibility of all the country's leaders to ensure that situations like these do not happen. The EU therefore urges all parties involved to agree on an immediate, unconditional cessation to hostilities and violence and engage in a political process under the auspices of IGAD. It calls on all political and military leaders to protect the population and to act in the interests of the South Sudanese people as a whole,” the statement said.
Fresh fighting in the world’s newest country erupted on December 15, 2013, when President Kiir said soldiers loyal to Machar, dismissed from office in July of last year, had launched an attempted coup. Kiir belongs to the Dinka ethnic group and Machar to the Lou Nuer, and the conflict has been increasingly marked by reports of ethnically targeted violence, the U.N. said.
Thousands of people are estimated to have died in the violence and some 180,000 others have been driven from their homes, up to 75,000 of them seeking refuge on UNMISS bases, which has been authorised by the U.N. Security Council to almost double its armed strength to nearly 14,000 in an effort to protect civilians.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir on January 2 introduced a state of emergency in two states controlled by rebels led by former deputy president Riek Machar.
The state of emergency was imposed in the states of Jonglei and Unity. On January 1, rebels took Jonglei’s capital of Bor, 200 km of Juba, the capital of the country. They have also been controlling Unity’s capital of Bentiu since December 15, 2013, when the conflict erupted.
The clashes that started in Juba have since then spread to six of the ten states.
According to the United Nations, about 400,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in South Sudan, including about 65,000 at the UNMISS bases. A further 42,800 South Sudanese have fled to neighbouring countries including Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda — 32,000 of them in Uganda alone.
Humanitarian organisations report that about 10,000 people have been killed.
The United Nations has released 15 million U.S. dollars from its humanitarian rapid response fund for critical relief operations in South Sudan, where over 230,000 people have been driven from their homes since fighting erupted between government and opposition forces nearly a month ago.
Since the country gained independence in July 2011, aid agencies have received almost 74.4 million U.S. dollars from CERF for critical assistance, including food, clean water, shelter and health services.