UN announces massive aid operation in South Sudan
The United Nations on Friday said it is launching a massive humanitarian operation help an estimated 50,000 people hit by inter-ethnic conflict in South Sudan's Jonglei state.
The programme is aimed at helping thousands of people to return home after clashes between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement.
"Thousands of people now need food, water and shelter. Aid agencies are assessing their needs," OCHA said.
"The situation in humanitarian terms is grim," said Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator via video link.
A top local Sudanese official said over 3,000 people were killed in brutal massacres last week.
"There have been mass killings, a massacre," said Joshua Konyi, commissioner for Pibor county in Jonglei state.
"We have been out counting the bodies, and we calculate so far that 2,182 women and children were killed and 959 men died."
United Nations and South Sudanese army officials have yet to confirm the death tolls and the claims from the remote region could not be independently verified.
If confirmed, the killings of 3,141 people would be the worst outbreak of ethnic violence ever seen in the fledgling nation, which split from Sudan in July.
A column of some 6,000 rampaging armed youths from the Lou Nuer tribe last week marched on the remote town of Pibor, home to the rival Murle people, whom they blame for abductions and cattle raiding and have vowed to exterminate.
The Lou Nuer gunmen attacked Pibor at the weekend, torching huts and looting a hospital, and only withdrew after government troops opened fire.
Over a thousand children are missing, feared abducted, while tens of thousands of cows were stolen, added Konyi, who is himself an ethnic Murle.
© 2012 AFP