South Sudan headed for upsurge in fighting: UN

More than 200,000 South Sudanese civilians are sheltering inside UN camps (AFP Photo/Simon Waakhe Wudu)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The end of the rainy season in South Sudan could re-ignite fierce fighting, with factions battling for control of oil fields while the threat of famine looms, a UN official warned Thursday.

"The rainy season is ending and this could be the signal for a further surge in fighting," said the senior official, who asked not to be named.

"The race for the control of the oil fields will surge," he warned.

The official voiced disappointment after a new round of peace talks brokered by Ethiopia were put on hold on Sunday.

The talks, which have been repeatedly interrupted since they began in January, aim to find a lasting solution to the conflict that broke out on December 15 between factions loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former vice-president Riek Machar.

UN camps set up in South Sudan are filled with more than 100,000 civilians who have fled the violence amid fears of a famine that could become the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Thousands of people have been killed and almost two million have fled more than nine months of fighting between government troops, mutinous soldiers and ragtag militia forces divided along tribal lines.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon organized a high-level meeting on South Sudan on the sidelines of the General Assembly last month, but Kiir failed to turn up.

"This is something that we should not forget," said the official.

The UN Security Council has threatened to slap sanctions on South Sudan leaders who are deemed as failing to support peace efforts in the country.

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