At least 70,000 South Sudanese have fled to neighbouring Uganda since renewed violence broke out last month in the war-torn country, a top UN official said Wednesday.

UN humanitarian affairs chief Stephen O'Brien, who visited South Sudan in early August, warned of an "enormous and complex humanitarian crisis" facing the country, where 1.6 million people are internally displaced and some 4.8 million are severely food insecure.

"Sadly, in the past year, the humanitarian situation has significantly deteriorated, including in areas that were relatively stable, and displacement and hunger are now widespread across the country," O'Brien said.

He noted that at least 70,000 people have fled to Uganda since July, an increase even from last week's UN estimate of 60,000.

"[The refugee flow] appears to be growing," O'Brien said.

Some 900,000 people have fled South Sudan since violence broke out in December 2013, when a power struggle between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar turned into a military conflict.

The UN's humanitarian response plan for the country has a funding gap of 700 million dollars - a figure that is likely to rise when the appeal is revised in the coming weeks to reflect current needs.

O'Brien's visit to South Sudan came after renewed fighting erupted on July 9 as the country marked the fifth anniversary of its independence from Sudan. The violence dealt a blow to a peace agreement that was signed last year to end the conflict.

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