At least 50,000 people have been killed in South Sudan’s two-year civil war, a senior United Nations official said on Wednesday, a five-fold increase in the death toll given by humanitarian agencies in the early months of the conflict.
A political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, sparked the war in December 2013, which has reopened ethnic fault lines between Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer people.
“Fifty thousand killed, maybe more, 2.2 million refugees and displaced, famine coming and looming in just a few months,” the senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told a small group of reporters. He added that he saw little prospect of implementing an August peace deal.
The United Nations said last month that South Sudan’s warring parties are killing, abducting and displacing civilians and destroying property despite conciliatory rhetoric by Kiir and Machar.
After months of ineffective negotiations and failed ceasefires, both sides agreed in January to share positions in a transitional government, and last month Kiir reappointed Machar to his former post as vice president.
“Where are we on the implementation of the peace agreement? Nowhere,” the senior U.N. official said. “We see violence spreading along ethnic lines in other parts of South Sudan which had been spared so far.”
A U.N. panel that monitors the conflict in South Sudan for the Security Council stated in January that Kiir and Machar are still completely in charge of their forces and are therefore directly to blame for killing civilians. Read more