Thousands of children separated from their families in South Sudan

The latest violence is already believed to have claimed more than 1,000 lives

Aid agency Save the Children has warned that thousands of children are likely to have been separated from their families as a result of the violence in South Sudan. It said that more than 121,000 people had been forced to flee their homes, and that many children are surviving on their own in remote areas, having witnessed their parents being killed and their homes ransacked and destroyed.

“In about three days alone we have registered 60 children in one site in Juba who have been separated from their families because of the conflict,” Helen Mould, of Save the Children, told the BBC. “Until we get access to these areas where the fighting has been at its hardest, in Jonglei, in Upper Nile state… it's difficult to know what the exact circumstances are and it's difficult for us to respond.”

The violence, which is already believed to have claimed more than 1,000 lives, erupted in the capital city of Juba on December 15, and has since spread to other provinces.

South Sudan only became independent from Sudan in 2011, following decades of civil war. The current conflict was sparked by what the South Sudan government called a ‘failed coup attempt’ by the ousted vice president, Riek Machar. Machar was sacked from his position in July by president Salva Kiir.

According to the UN, some 42,000 of those displaced have sought refuge in UN bases across the country, including 20,000 in two UN compounds in Juba. The UN’s humanitarian body has raised concerns over how to feed the thousands of displaced civilians and get clean water and sanitation to them as the UN bases become overcrowded.

Urgent medical supplies are also needed to treat up to 500 people wounded in the fighting, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

“Staff in both [Juba Teaching and Juba Military] hospitals have been working around the clock, but they are struggling because of the sheer volume of patients and the severity of the injuries,” said Felicity Gapes, an ICRC delegate.

The UN has said that until March, $166m will be needed to address the immediate needs of those affected by the violence. In total, aid agencies have calculated that around $1.1bn will be required over the course of 2014, to alleviate the suffering of those trapped amid a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation.