Former Labour leader David Shearer paints grim picture of South Sudan

Former Labour leader David Shearer has painted a grim picture of the situation in South Sudan in his latest address to the United Nations Security Council in New York.

Since January, Mr Shearer has been stationed as the UN mission chief in South Sudan, a country where on-going violence has driven four million people from their homes and almost eight million more are in desperate need of aid.

Mr Shearer is calling on swift action to help lift the country out of economic, political and humanitarian crisis.

"The space I believe for compromise over the 2015 peace agreement is narrow," he told the Security Council. "The parties have shown little interest in engaging in serious negotiations on the way forward, despite the various initiatives aimed at finding a political solution to the conflict."

The 2015 agreement aimed at restoring peace in the world's newest country, but Mr Shearer says that hasn't happened.

He says inflation is about 165 percent, with many civil servants going up to five months without pay.

That's caused public unrest and frustration at government services, while the splintering of opposition forces in South Sudan has undermined efforts to deliver aid to areas in need.

"Increasingly, combatants are shifting into criminality along major roadways, with civilian and aid convoys being a target. Just two weeks ago, a driver for the International Committee of the Red Cross was killed, when his relief convoy was attacked in Western Equatoria.

"His death brings to 18 the number of aid workers who have been killed in South Sudan just this year."

Hopes were high for peace in South Sudan, after it found independence in 2011, but the African nation has been mired in conflict since.

Mr Shearer's speech warned that conflict will continue to drain international resources, if the UN doesn't act urgently to convince parties in South Sudan of the need to compromise and find peaceful solutions.