South Sudan conflict: Genocide warning as a million people face famine

UN calls for ceasefire so that crops can be planted

Both sides in the spiralling South Sudan conflict have dismissed the suggestion of a 30-day ceasefire to allow crops to be sown amid the risk of severe famine.

Hours after President Salva Kiir tentatively agreed to enter peace talks with the opposition leader Riek Machar, the UN's top human rights official, Navi Pillay, issued a warning that up to a million people could face famine within months, unless hostilities were put on hold to plant crops. "Shockingly, their reaction indicated that this was not an overriding concern," said Ms Pillay.

The UN Security Council heard on Friday that action was needed "to bring the parties to their senses" after thousands were killed in months of fighting and more than a million people displaced. The council expressed its "horror" at recent mass attacks on civilians.

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