Displaced people from the UNMISS County Support Base (CSB) in Pariang, Unity State, South Sudan, being relocated to Bentiu. Photo: UNMISS
Displaced people from the UNMISS County Support Base (CSB) in Pariang, Unity State, South Sudan, being relocated to Bentiu. Photo: UNMISS
Displaced people from the UNMISS County Support Base (CSB) in Pariang, Unity State, South Sudan, being relocated to Bentiu. Photo: UNMISS
Displaced people from the UNMISS County Support Base (CSB) in Pariang, Unity State, South Sudan, being relocated to Bentiu. Photo: UNMISS

18 March 2014 ? As the Security Council prepares to discuss the situation in South Sudan today in New York, the United Nations mission on the ground is reporting fighting between Government and opposition forces in the town of Malakal in Upper Nile state.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said that two tank shells exploded about 200 metres from its compound last evening, wounding a displaced civilian sheltering at the protection site.

?This person is currently being treated at the UN hospital within the site,? UN spokesman St?phane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

?The Mission also reports that sporadic arms fire and artillery shell explosions were heard earlier in the day yesterday, also not far away from the compound,? he added.

UNMISS reiterated the importance for both parties to fully comply with the cessation of hostilities agreement that was signed in January and which aims to stem the conflict that began in mid-December. The crisis in the world?s youngest nation has uprooted over 700,000 people from their homes, including 77,000 who are seeking refuge at UNMISS bases.

The Mission also stressed that both parties to the conflict must respect the inviolability of UN premises and facilities, as well as the life-saving work that the world body is doing on the ground.

As part of ongoing efforts by the UN and its partners to assist those in need, the World Food Programme (WFP) has started a series of airdrops of food assistance to remote areas of the country.

Two rounds of airdrops today delivered enough cereals for about 8,000 displaced people for about 15 days in the town of Ganyiel in Unity state, the agency said in a news release. Airdrops are planned for nine locations in Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity states, and may be expanded to reach other areas.

?We are in a race against time to get assistance to people who are in critical need in places we simply haven?t been able to reach by road or river,? said WFP Country Director Chris Nikoi.

?Given the level of the conflict, we have known for some time that we would have to move some food by air to some parts of the country, particularly during the rainy season, but we have faced more difficulties than envisioned and now need to deliver more food by air than planned.?

Insecurity, border restrictions and other barriers to humanitarian access are causing serious problems for WFP moving food into and around the country at a time when the agency is urgently trying to deliver food assistance to hundreds of thousands of people in need, as well as to pre-position food before the rainy season makes more than half the country inaccessible by road.

WFP has provided food assistance and nutrition support to some 765,000 people in South Sudan since the crisis began, and is aiming to scale up its assistance to support 2.5 million conflict-affected and food-insecure people in South Sudan over the coming months.

Working closely with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), it is also supporting a rapidly growing number of South Sudanese refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries. More than 210,000 refugees from South Sudan have arrived in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Sudan since the crisis began.

WFP is concerned about reports of ?alarmingly high? rates of malnutrition among children arriving at refugee camps in neighbouring countries, particularly Ethiopia, said Valerie Guarnieri, WFP Regional Director for East and Central Africa.

?While we are working with partners to provide specialized nutritious foods for refugee children, the high levels of malnutrition are a sign that the humanitarian situation in inaccessible regions of South Sudan may be rapidly deteriorating.?

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