23 June 2014 - Our Emergency Programme Officer Rosie Crowther has just returned from South Sudan, where she has been working with one of our partners in Upper Nile, one of the three states, along with Jonglei and Unity, worst affected by the recent conflict.
Despite the Cessation of Hostilities, signed by the government and opposition in January, and committed to again in May, sporadic fighting continues.
Listen to Rosie as she describes the situation in South Sudan and the vulnerable displaced people she met, largely women and children:
Reaching the helpless
‘The pockets of fighting, with different groups controlling different areas of the country, has meant transporting humanitarian supplies is complicated, often meaning we need to consult both sides before moving goods from one area to another in order to ensure safe passage,’ explains Rosie.
‘As the rainy season sets in the roads and airstrips have been seriously affected, making huge parts of the country very difficult to access. The rains also bring an increased risk of malaria and a cholera outbreak in Juba is already spreading to other parts of the country’.
Our partner, the Universal Network for Knowledge and Empowerment Agency (UNKEA), is providing the internally displaced (IDPs) with food, sleeping mats, cooking utensils, water purification tablets, soap and drugs to treat malaria and diarrhoea in two counties: Nasir and Maiwut, where large numbers of people have been displaced by the fighting.
While many aid agencies left the area due to security concerns, UNKEA has remained.
Risk of famine
The biggest concern for aid agencies now is the hunger gap which faces millions of South Sudanese.
Rose explains: ‘The next harvest is due in July and August, but with over 1 million people displaced within the country and a further 378,000 fleeing to neighbouring countries such as Ethiopia, people have been unable to plant their crops.
‘The UN is warning the current food shortages could develop into famine in the coming months.’
There is also limited education provision in Upper Nile for both the IDPs and host communities they have fled to.
Teachers in opposition-controlled areas have not received salaries since the crisis began and school buildings are empty as many families have crossed into Ethiopia so their children can attend school.
Fleeing with nothing
Over the border in Ethiopia it is reported that more than 1,000 people are fleeing South Sudan each day because they fear the peace agreement will not hold.
Many thousands have been so frightened they’ve been forced to leave their homes with nothing. They have no means of making a living and many, having deserted farmland, are now unable to grow food for their families.
Yet they still believe they will be safer there, with a better chance of getting food and access to services such as health and education in the growing refugee camps.
Please help us to reach more vulnerable people caught up in conflict by giving what you can to our emergencies fund.
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Latest update from South Sudan