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South Sudan: humanitarian agencies demand road access

April 2, 2014 (JUBA) – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) have asked the parties to the South Sudan conflict to provide safe passage of humanitarian assistance to people trapped in conflict zones.

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WFP director Ertharin Cousin (L) and the UNHCR’s Antonio Guterres brief reporters on ongoing humanitarian efforts in South Sudan in the capital, Juba, on 1 April 2014 (ST)

Speaking in the capital, Juba, during a two-day trip to the country on Tuesday, WFP director Ertharin Cousin said a lack of access to displaced persons in isolated camps is tripling the cost of delivering food.

“Providing access now, while we can drive on road, will help us to position enough food before rains (begin),” said Cousin, addressing reporters at WFP’s office in Juba on Tuesday.

Speaking at the same news conference, the UN’s high commissioner for refugees, Antonio Guterres, urged the international community to show “solidarity with people of South Sudan”.

“The South Sudanese people are suffering and need your help,” he said.

WFP has been airdropping food to Ganyiel and Nyal in Unity state since mid-March due to their inaccessibility by road.

Having to resort to such methods, however, is drastically increasing the cost of food supplies, the UN agency said.

Over one million people have been displaced during the conflict that began in mid-December last year after political tensions erupted in violence.

Aid agencies have so far reached around 925,700 of the 3.2 million people who are in need of assistance.

(ST)