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Source: Radio Tamazuj

More than 300,000 people in South Sudan’s Unity state are without food aid and medical services due to continued fighting between government and rebel forces, a senior UN official said Monday.

“Ongoing hostilities in Unity state have now obliged all non-governmental organisations and UN agencies to evacuate staff from Leer and other locations,” said UN humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan Toby Lanzer. “The humanitarian response south of Bentiu in Unity state has, as such, come to a stop.”

“300,000 civilians who are in need of emergency relief, including food aid and medical services, do not currently have access to such life-saving assistance,” he added.

Lanzer demanded that the warring parties allow aid agencies to immediately resume their work, noting that humanitarians operate following principles of “humanity, impartiality, and neutrality.”

He added that the fighting comes “precisely at the height of the traditional planting season when civilians could be planting their crops in order to reap a harvest later this year.” If farmers cannot plant their seeds, they may therefore face severe hunger in coming months.

The fighting in Unity comes amid a government offensive south of Bentiu, Radio Tamazuj reported last week. On Friday night, fighting reached Koch, some 40 kilometers north of Leer, according to sources.

On Saturday, Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) pulled their international staff out of Leer fearing an “imminent attack.”

However, the ICRC announced today that this morning they managed to “partially resume” food assistance to people in Leer.

100,000 people were displaced by the fighting in Unity in the first week of this month alone.

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