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Civilians Suffering Most in New South Sudan Fighting


FILE - Residents displaced due to the recent fighting between government and rebel forces in the Upper Nile capital Malakal wait at a World Food Program (WFP) outpost.

Renewed fighting in South Sudan has forced thousands to flee their homes in recent days. Some 650,000 civilians reportedly are without access to aid.

Renewed fighting in South Sudan has forced thousands to flee their homes in recent days. Some 650,000 civilians reportedly are without access to aid.

Civilians remain caught between government troops and opposition forces.

With more than 20,000 people fleeing to U.N. bases in the northern towns of Malakal and Bentiu over the last few weeks, these sites are becoming overcrowded and inter-communal tensions are escalating, the aid group Doctors Without Borders said. Meanwhile, the rainy season is underway in South Sudan, increasing the risk of diseases like cholera and malaria.

The United States condemns the intensified fighting and violence in Unity, Upper Nile, and Jonglei states in South Sudan by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the armed opposition, and forces led by General Johnson Olony. This fighting has displaced large populations and devastated the lives of civilians. We call on all armed groups to immediately halt offensive actions taken in contravention of the January 2014 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.

Violations of humanitarian norms by all sides are unacceptable, including the outright targeting of already vulnerable civilians, especially women and children; grave human rights abuses; and violations of international humanitarian law. The international community will hold those who perpetrate these serious abuses to account.

We call on all sides to give up arms and permit the UN Mission in South Sudan to investigate the sites of alleged human rights abuses and other violations of international humanitarian law, and to grant humanitarian workers free, immediate, and unobstructed access to all conflicted-affected communities.

The human, social, and economic costs of this war have been devastating, and the long-suffering people of South Sudan now will bear the brunt of the long-term consequences of continued fighting. Any damage to South Sudan’s oil infrastructure is an additional peril that jeopardizes the future efforts of South Sudanese to rebuild and develop their young nation. These resources belong to all South Sudanese people. The needs of the many have to come before the political ambitions of a few.

The United States will continue to work with our partners to ensure a hopeful future for all South Sudanese citizens, and we will continue to condemn those who intentionally put that hopeful future at risk.

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