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UNHCR appeals for urgent action to end S. Sudan crisis

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December 13, 2017 (JUBA) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi has urged urgent action by all sides to settle the conflict in South Sudan and put an end to its deepening humanitarian crisis and Africa’s largest refugee disaster.

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South Sudanese refugees carrying Core Relief Items walk down a road in Bidibidi refugee settlement, Yumbe District, Northern Region, Uganda. (UNHCR/David Azia)

“The world cannot continue to stand by as the people of South Sudan are terrorized by a senseless war,” Grandi said Wednesday.

The official said the devastating effects of the fighting were a direct consequence of “tragic failures” in the country’s political leadership.

Most of the refugees, according to Grandi, were children under the age of 18, while the women who arrived as refugee in neighbouring countries reportedly complained of having either been repeatedly raped, their husbands killed or their children abducted.

South Sudan’s neighbouring countries currently host two million refugees, while nearly seven million citizens inside the country are in need of essential humanitarian assistance, the refugee agency said.

“Two million of these [refugees] are internally displaced,” said Grandi.

“Pressure must be brought to bear on those driving this deadly conflict, which has uprooted a third of South Sudan’s people in just four years, and killed and maimed countless more. Urgent, concerted action by regional and international actors is needed before it is too late,” said the top UN official.

Grandi said failure to protect South Sudanese refugees and other civilians would make the crisis even more complex and destabilize the region for decades to come, a possibility the world can ill afford.

He called on the parties to the conflict to find a political solution.

“The success of the High Level Revitalization Forum is key to ending the suffering of South Sudanese refugees and the killing of innocent civilians,” he said.

The peace initiative in South Sudan, brokered by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), intends to revive the stalled peace accord, which was signed in August 2015.

The South Sudan conflict, the UN refugee agency says has created the largest refugee crisis on the African continent. UNHCR estimates the refugee population could exceed three million by December 2018.

“The situation is no longer sustainable - for the governments of asylum countries, humanitarian agencies and, most importantly, the South Sudanese people,” stressed Grandi.

“The cycle of violence must be brought to an end,” he added.

(ST)

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