Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the signing of an agreement to resolve the crisis in South Sudan, and demanded an immediate cessation of hostilities.
The agreement was signed yesterday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, by South Sudan's President, Salva Kiir, and former Vice President Riek Machar, whose supporters have waged a five-month battle that has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians and led to gross human rights violations by both sides.
Mr. Ban, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, demanded that the parties immediately translate these commitments into action on the ground, in particular the cessation of all hostilities.
He commended the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and in particular its chair, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, for its ongoing efforts to mediate a peaceful and sustainable end to the conflict.
In total, 923,000 South Sudanese are displaced within their own country, while more than 293,000 people have become refugees in neighbouring countries since the crisis began in mid-December 2013, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Tens of thousands of the displaced civilians are seeking shelter at UN peacekeeping bases (UNMISS) throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today that one-third of the population of South Sudan is now experiencing emergency levels of food insecurity, and that some areas of the country to appear to be at high risk of famine in the coming months.
The latest food security analysis carried out in South Sudan indicates that, as a result of conflict, displacement, destroyed markets and disrupted livelihoods, food security has deteriorated at an alarming rate since the outbreak of conflict in December 2013.
Populations, particularly in the three most conflict-affected states of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei, need urgent humanitarian assistance to save lives and livelihoods, FAO stressed.