The United Nations has warned that 5,000 internally displaced people and a number of aid workers in South Sudan have been forced to flee a region in the country due to growing instability.
Many are fleeing to neighbouring country Ethiopia as Government troops advance on a rebel stronghold in the Upper Nile region.
The violence is gravely impacting humanitarian workers in a country where half the population is expected to need food aid this month.
“The situation in the Upper Nile is extremely worrying; at least 25 aids workers have been forced to relocate from Pagak and the surrounding areas due to increasing insecurity. The IOM has told us that five thousand people from the area north of Pagak have registered in the town before passing into Ethiopia as refugees,” said David Shearer, special representative of the secretary general in South Sudan.
He added that while it is unclear which side began the fighting, the military advance by the South Sudan forces “is not in the spirit of the unilateral ceasefire” declared by the Government in May.
“I am particularly concerned by the current situation in Torit, where government and opposition forces have taken up battle positions on either side of an orphanage just outside the town. It’s unacceptable that 250 innocent children, and the people who care for them, find themselves in no-man’s land between the warring parties,” Shearer said.
South Sudan broke into conflict in December 2013. The conflict has killed thousands of people and driven more than 2 million from their homes.