U.S. pledges up to $50 million urgent aid for South Sudan

WASHINGTON Mon May 19, 2014 7:58pm EDT

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir attends the signing of the Standard Gauge Railway agreement with China at the State House in Nairobi May 11, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/Pool

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir attends the signing of the Standard Gauge Railway agreement with China at the State House in Nairobi May 11, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya/Pool

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has authorized the use of up to $50 million from its emergency refugee fund to help with urgent humanitarian needs resulting from fighting in South Sudan, the White House said on Monday.

The conflict between President Salva Kiir's Dinka people and the Nuer of his former deputy, Riek Machar, has prompted a humanitarian crisis in the world's youngest nation. The fighting has curbed oil production in South Sudan, which became independent from Sudan in 2011.

More than 1.3 million people have been displaced, and South Sudan is at risk of famine, the White House said.

"Months of conflict between the government of South Sudan and rebel forces have exacted a terrible toll on the people of South Sudan," White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

The $50 million will support the U.N. High Commission for Refugees and its partners to help more than 300,000 refugees who have crossed into Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, as well as internally displaced people, the statement said.

The White House said the $50 million would be part of a package of nearly $300 million in additional assistance that the United States will formally pledge on Tuesday at a conference in Oslo. It brings the total of U.S. humanitarian assistance to about $434 million since the conflict began in December.

Norway pledged $63 million on Monday.

(This version of the story was refiled to remove an extraneous words from the headline.)

(Writing by Jim Loney; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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