Since fighting broke out in mid-December between rival army factions in South Sudan, plunging the new country into widespread conflict pitting communities against one another, thousands, perhaps as many as 30,000 people, have died; 1.5 million have been forced from their homes and around four million require humanitarian assistance, with food insecurity the main concern.
One of the most badly affected towns has been Leer, in oil-rich Unity State, the birthplace of former vice-president Riek Marchar, now the head of the armed opposition.
The town has suffered extensive destruction and the population is left with no means for survival. Here, food shortages are worse than in many other places in South Sudan, according to international NGOs.
This slideshow illustrates the horrors visited upon Leer. It is narrated by a local politician, who asked not to be identified.
“This is an ethnic conflict,” he said.
“If it’s political, let them [the combatants] target political elders, not the entire community. We don’t see this as politics, because in politics you don’t kill, you talk, convince people,” he added.
“Personally, I feel very sad because I fought for this country [against Khartoum] and we don’t want our people to return to war again. I don’t want to take my child to join the army when he is 14 years old.”
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions