South Sudan: Atrocious scenes in Bentiu (VIDEO)
On 20 and 21 April, a team of UN agencies and NGOs travelled to Bentiu, the capital of Unity State in the north of South Sudan. The town had been the scene of fighting between Government and opposition forces earlier in the week, and reports had emerged of that hundreds of civilians had been killed, many targeted based on their ethnicity or political affiliation.
In the town, the team found scores of dead bodies scattered in the streets and piled up in the market. People fleeing the town were streaming towards a nearby UN peacekeeping base, seeking refuge from attacks. The base is now home to over 22,000 people, up from 5,000 before the latest fighting.
A massive humanitarian crisis
The killings in Bentiu represent an escalation of the violence that has engulfed South Sudan since December 2013. Fighting is ongoing in several parts of the country, despite a cessation of hostilities agreement signed in January. More than 1 million people have been forced from their homes, and millions more are at risk of hunger and disease.
Aid agencies need support
Aid agencies are racing against the clock to scale-up the humanitarian response. But they need more support. Relief organizations aim to reach 3.2 million people by June, but have only received 38 per cent of the funding they need.