Categories: Africa

Thousands Risk Starvation Amid Nile Blockade

A group of displaced women and children rest on Ethiopian territory after crossing the Baro River from South Sudan. Some 20,000 people have fled South Sudan since a ceasefire began in early May. © UNHCR/L.F.Godinho

JUBA – Aid agencies say thousands of civilians in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state face starvation after the government blocked aid groups from using the Nile River to deliver relief food.

The river is a transportation lifeline in a country with few all-weather roads or airstrips, but it currently forms the frontline in Upper Nile between rebel forces on the west side and government forces on the east.

Military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer said Nile transport was “temporarily put on hold” for security purposes because the river was used by the rebels to attack army bases along the river.

Tapiwa Gomo, a spokeswoman for the U.N’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said Friday 30,000 to 35,000 displaced civilians in the west bank village of Wau Shilluk face a “worrying” situation.

The civil war began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of planning a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings that has split the poverty-stricken, landlocked country along ethnic lines.

AP contributed this report

Times Wire Staff: