UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- UN officials on Wednesday expressed grave concern over the dire security and humanitarian situation in South Sudan.
Although an agreement on the cessation of hostilities was signed on Dec. 21, the security situation in the country remains volatile as there continues to be numerous violations of the agreement, Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix told the Security Council.
Those violations by the parties and the continuing hostile propaganda undertaken against one another are worrisome, as they illustrate a lack of genuine will to honor their commitments, and undermine the regional and international efforts to revitalize the peace process, said Lacroix.
He also expressed deep concern over the high level of human rights abuses and violations against civilians, mainly women and children. "The gravity of conflict-related sexual violence is deplorable and constitutes an emergency in its own right."
Briefing the Security Council at the same meeting, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ursula Mueller reported shocking humanitarian conditions in the country.
The latest food security analysis estimates that 5.1 million people are severely food insecure, an increase from the October-December period, she said. Some 1.5 million people are in emergency-level food insecurity, just one step away from famine, and around 20,000 people are already in famine conditions.
Humanitarian access remains challenging in the war-torn country, resulting in delays and interruptions in humanitarian response, she said. Last year, at least 28 aid workers were killed in the line of duty.
Shortly after its independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan plunged into civil war. Up to 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed since late 2013. More than 2 million people have fled to neighboring countries, and an additional 1.9 million are internally displaced.
UN officials have repeatedly pointed out that the tragedy is South Sudan is purely man-made.