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UN official says southern Sudan facing "humanitarian perfect storm"
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08:38, August 13, 2009

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A United Nations official on Wednesday called the humanitarian situation in southern Sudan a "humanitarian perfect storm," with 40 percentage of the population at real risk.

Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for southern Sudan, told a press conference that three main factors were leading to this situation, namely spiraling inter-tribal conflicts, a massive food gap and the budget crisis.

"Inter-tribal conflicts are increasing in number and intensity," the UN official said, adding that since January more than 2,000 people have died in inter-tribal violence and more than 250,000 people have been displaced across southern Sudan.

There have been several brutal massacres with over 1,000 victims, most of whom were women and children.

"What is most worrying is that one attack leads to another, resulting in a spiral of attack and counter-attack. The fact that these attacks are targeting civilians, mostly women and children, is a very disturbing trend," the UN official noted.

She also said southern Sudan is facing with a massive food deficit caused by a combination of late rains, high levels of insecurity and displacement, disruptions of trade and high food prices.

The UN World Food Program (WFP) originally estimated that 1.2 million people in the south would need urgent food aid during 2009.

"22,000 tons of additional food was anticipated to be needed to respond to the food gap. Half of this will be for Jonglei state alone, one of the states hardest-hit by insecurity," she added.

On the overall humanitarian situation in southern Sudan, the UN official said more than 90 percent of the population were living on less than a dollar a day, one out of seven women who became pregnant would probably die of pregnancy related complications and there were only 10 certified midwives in southern Sudan.

Some 92 percent of women in southern Sudan could not read and write, only 27 percent of girls were in school and there were 1,000 primary school pupils per teacher, 97 percent of the population had no access to sanitation, she said.

On the budget crisis of the humanitarian operation, the UN official said partners in southern Sudan had requested 412 million U.S. dollars in the 2009 work plan, of which only 59 million had been received thus far.

Source: Xinhua

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