Last week Nancy Lindborg, our assistant administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, wrote about her recent trip to South Sudan where she witnessed how rapidly escalating violence is sending shockwaves through the world’s newest nation.

The people of South Sudan face a spiral of conflict, displacement, and hunger that this fragile, young country can ill afford. More than one million people have been forced to leave their homes and the numbers keep growing. Almost 70,000 people are sheltering in crowded UN compounds around the country that sprung up overnight and were not built to house tens of thousands of civilians. Many of these people can literally see their homes over the compound walls but remain too terrified to return, fearing they will be targeted by government or opposition forces and killed.

Lindborg called on the international community to take urgent action.

With the rainy season already upon us, there is little time to move life-saving assistance to those most in need. Even in the best of times, South Sudan presents a complex logistical challenge. Now, we need to use all possible avenues for reaching people: rivers, roads, air, and moving across borders.

Yesterday she and Khalid Medani of McGill University spoke about the escalating violence and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan on PBS Newshour. Lindborg voiced the U.S. Government’s extreme concern over the recent attacks on the U.N. compound in Bor and on civilians in Bentiu; and called on South Sudan’s leaders and all parties to the conflict to let international aid reach the country’s displaced, vulnerable and malnourished.

“If we are not able to reach the hard to reach areas through better access that is now being blocked by both sides, we are looking at famine.” Lindborg said.

Watch the full interview: