UNITED NATIONS - If the fighting in South Sudan prevents people from planting crops over the next three months, the country will be headed for a humanitarian disaster, the humanitarian coordinator for the United Nations in South Sudan said on Tuesday.

The conflict in the world's youngest country erupted in December between troops backing President Salva Kiir and soldiers loyal to his sacked vice president, Riek Machar. Thousands of civilians have been killed in the violence in the oil-producing nation.

Although the warring parties agreed to a cessation of hostilities on Jan. 23, fighting has continued in parts of South Sudan.

Toby Lanzer, the deputy UN special representative and humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, said it was crucial that the South Sudanese be able to plant their crops in March, April and May to ensure there is a harvest this year.

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