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Photograph: Google maps

The South Sudanese town of Yei is facing a humanitarian crisis, as tens of thousands of trapped civilians are threatened with serious shortages of food and medicine, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warned Friday.

Some 40,000 have recently fled to Yei from surrounding areas to escape the renewed conflict that has flared up since early July in the country, while 60,000 residents have no means to leave.

"They urgently need humanitarian assistance," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said at a press conference in Geneva.

In addition, Spindler said that sexual crimes seem to be on the rise and that children have become separated from their families amid the strife surrounding Yei, which lies south-west of the capital Juba.

Some 2.6 million people have been displaced by the violent power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar that erupted in late 2013, according to UN estimates.

The two sides of the conflict formed a unity government in April, but fighting erupted again in July, prompting Machar to flee to Sudan.

People who have fled to Yei told UN officials this week that men, women and children had been brutally killed and mutilated for allegedly supporting the opposition.

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