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Nearly 50,000 at risk as South Sudan violence soars

The offensive was launched on Wednesday [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 April, 2017

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South Sudanese government forces launched an offensive on a town in the north on Wednesday, displacing civilians who may be headed toward the border with Sudan, the UN envoy said.
South Sudanese government forces launched an offensive on a town in the north on Wednesday, displacing civilians who may be headed toward the border with Sudan, a UN envoy said on Thursday.

"As we speak, there is an ongoing operation by the SPLA (the government's Sudan People's Liberation Army) on the western side of the Nile... toward the town of Kodok. They are on the edge of Kodok," David Shearer, who also heads the UN mission in South Sudan said.

Some 50,000 people in Kodok in Upper Nile state, many of whom fled fighting six weeks ago in the town of Wau Shilluk, were at risk from the violence.

"The conflict has widened rather than contracted over the past few weeks," Shearer told a news conference. 

Civilians were fleeing Kodok and "possibly headed to the Sudanese border," he added.

The attack was the latest in fighting that began at the beginning of the year in South Sudan and has driven tens of thousands of civilians from their homes.

Some 60,000 people had been forced to flee across the border every month, in the first quarter of the year, Shearer noted.

South Sudan split from Sudan in 2011 under a peace deal that ended a 22-year civil war.

But Juba and Khartoum have traded allegations of supporting each other's rebels on their territory, charges which both countries deny.

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council discussed the worsening conflict in South Sudan, but members were divided on the way forward to rein in the warring sides.

The United States, backed by France and Britain, suggested an arms embargo and sanctions could put pressure on the parties to return to political talks, but China and Russia disagreed.

South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, fell into a brutal civil war in December 2013 and tens of thousands of people have been killed in the country since then.

More than three and a half million people have been driven from their homes.

In February, South Sudan and the United Nations formally declared a famine in parts of northern Unity State affecting 100,000 people, a disaster that UN officials said was "man-made" and could have been averted.

Sudan is hosting some 380,000 South Sudanese refugees who have arrived since the war erupted, the UN's refugee agency says, and the influx has swelled in recent months after South Sudan declared a famine in parts of the country.

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