UN Speaks of Volatile Situation in South Sudan

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Saturday, 09 July 2016 11:31 Last Updated on Saturday, 09 July 2016 11:51 Written by AP

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The United Nations' Refugee Agency reported on Friday that continuing violence in South Sudan is forcing increasing numbers of its citizens to flee.

Speaking in Geneva ahead of Saturday's fifth anniversary of South Sudan independence, UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Flemming said "nearly one in four of South Sudan's citizens is displaced within its borders or neighboring countries."

She said most of the 2.6 million people displaced in the world's youngest nation were children.

According to the World Food Programmed (WFP) the number of food insecure people in the country is expected to increase from 4.3 million to 4.8 million in line with seasonal vulnerabilities and the economic crisis.

Witnesses said heavy gunfire erupted outside the compound of South Sudan's president on Friday evening as Salva Kiir was preparing to address the nation on the latest deadly fighting in the capital, Juba, which has sparked fears of a return to civil war.

Video filmed by Eye Radio journalist Obaj Okuj Shaqawa captured the sound of sustained gunshots late on Friday.

Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar, a former rebel leader, were meeting about recent violence when the gunfire began.

They told reporters they did not know what was happening as gunfire left residents of the capital panicked.

Both Kiir and Machar urged people to remain calm and Machar said that "measures will be taken so that peace is restored even to the heart of the city," South Sudan's Radio Tamazuj tweeted.

Kiir and Machar were safe, Machar's chief of staff, Ezekial Lol Gatkuoth, later said.

An Associated Press reporter in Juba said the shooting came from the direction of Kololo, the neighborhood where the presidential palace and some diplomatic missions are located.

He said the gunfire was from a mix of heavy and light weapons.

Source : tolonews[dot]com