The United Nations launched a massive humanitarian emergency effort in South Sudan on Friday, following a month of intertribal clashes, the Associated Press reported.
Food has already been distributed to 2,000 people, according to UN spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs, the BBC reported. Byrs also said the operation aims to help the 50,000 people who fled the area due to the recent violence.
Read more at GlobalPost: South Sudan: UN troops step in to prevent ethnic violence
On Thursday, South Sudan declared a disaster in Jonglei state, after 6,000 ethnic Lou Nuer fighters attacked the area around Pibor in the last few days, outnumbering South Sudan’s army and UN forces, the BBC reported. Last week the UN sent “a battalion of forces” to South Sudan, CNN reported.
"The problem we faced in this particular region of Jonglei state was one of access, because there are no roads, because of insufficient helicopters," said Herve Ladsous, the U.N. peacekeeping chief, CNN reported. "So we did reinforce our available staff there. The government of South Sudan itself is trying to do the same, but facing the same constraints."
Read more at GlobalPost: South Suda: Jonglei violence displaces "at least 20,000"
Media reports have put the death toll in the clashes as high as 3,000, but the UN was not able to confirm the number, the AP reported.
In July South Sudan declared independence under a 2005 peace agreement with Khartoum that ended decades of civil war, Reuters reported. But South Sudan still struggles to end tribal and rebel violence that has killed thousands in this last year. UN sources told Reuters fighting almost died down after the army took control of Pibor but thousands are still hiding in the bush.
"The government says this is a disaster and we make every effort to reach them," Lise Grande, UN humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, Reuters reported. "We are concentrating on five locations of which four we can only reach by air. Three of these locations have been burned to the ground.”
Read more at GlobalPost: South Sudan News: Ethnic clashes must be solved in the long term