Women and children are being slaughtered in brutal conflict in Sudan.
Women and children are being slaughtered in brutal conflict in Sudan. AP Photo

Mass rape and slaughter worsens famine

WOMEN and children are being slaughtered in South Sudan by soldiers using knives to save ammunition. The brutal conflict, sparking UN warnings over ethnic cleansing, is driving a devastating famine that threatens millions with starvation in the country.

One woman who fled violence in the city of Yei told how she saw her best friend and her children, including a baby, butchered.

"The children and the elderly, they slaughtered them,” Sylvia, 31, told Save the Children workers.

"When the armed groups get you with your children, they will kill all of you. They will take you from your homes and slit your throat. For the small children they stab them, then they die later. I've seen children tied to their dead mother and thrown in the river. Soldiers have been doing this a lot.”

A famine was declared in parts of South Sudan last month in the first such catastrophe the world has seen in six years. More than 5.5 million people - almost half the population - will not have a reliable source of food by July in what the UN says is a worsening human-made crisis, driven by the conflict and worsened by government inaction.

The world's youngest nation has been mired in civil war since 2013, when President Salva Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar, sparking a war that has increasingly split the country along ethnic lines.

Fighting, massacres, looting and village burning have killed tens of thousands, caused widespread hunger and forced three million people from their homes - pitting Kiir's Dinka ethnic group against Machar's Nuer.

Lizzie Dearden, INM