The United Nations relief chief on Wednesday underlined the enormity of the humanitarian challenges facing South Sudan on the first day of her three-day visit to the fledgling country, highlighting the needs of returnees, an influx of refugees, internal displacement as a result of ethnic conflict and endemic poverty.
"South Sudan faces significant challenges, including hundreds of thousands of people displaced in 2011, people returning from Sudan and refugees from the ongoing conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan," said Valerie Amos, the UN's Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.
"In addition, conflict, poverty, and increasing food insecurity are having a major humanitarian impact. The people of South Sudan need our support," said Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, when she met with representatives from aid agencies in Juba.
A relatively small number of aid organizations are dealing with about 30 simultaneous emergency operations in the vast and remote country prone to inter-ethnic conflict and insecurity. Aid workers briefed Ms. Amos on their efforts to distribute aid in Jonglei state, the scene of inter-communal clashes in late December and early last month.
"I am concerned about the scope and magnitude of the violence communities have inflicted on each other in Jonglei, as well as about the conflict between rebel militias and the army that has killed, wounded and displaced so many," said Ms. Amos.
"Diversity in South Sudan should be a source of both communal and national pride. I hope that everyone in South Sudan will embrace their identity as South Sudanese, and achieve long-term reconciliation and peace," she added.
She travelled to Jonglei and saw the ongoing aid operation and met with Government officials, relief workers and those affected by the recent violence.
Radio Miraya's Richard Janda caught up with Amos at the end of her visit and asked her what was her assessment of the situation
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