As violence rages on in South Sudan, more than a third of the country’s population – four million people – has been forced to abandon their livestock and land and will nearly starve to death by the end of the year, UN officials say.
“We are losing time. Farmers should be planting their crops right now,” UN aid chief Valerie Amos said during a donor’s conference. “If they don’t, and if livestock herders are not able to migrate to grazing areas, people will run out of food.”
Fighting began back in December as a result of a power struggle between President Salva Kiir’s Dinka people and rebel leader Riek Machar’s Nuer people. Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry threatened to impose sanctions against Machar if he refused to commit to peace.
“We have to stop this fighting so that we save the people’s lives,” President Kiir said during a BBC interview on Monday.
Kiir and Machar have blamed one another for violating two ceasefire deals since the conflict began.
South Sudan has only been independent from Sudan since 2011.