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South Sudan peace agreement: urgent needs of millions must not be forgotten, warns Christian Aid

27 August 2015 - Christian Aid welcomes the signing of the South Sudan Compromise Peace Agreement, and calls on all parties involved to observe the Cessation of Hostilities, which is to be implemented within 72 hours of the signing, starting from Saturday this week.

Millions of civilians have been affected by the 20 months of violence in the world’s newest country, with many now needing access to food, shelter and clean water.

The text of the Agreement acknowledges ‘that the humanitarian situation in the Republic of South Sudan remains extremely precarious’ and that ‘all efforts must be made to continue and augment the provision and facilitation of humanitarian assistance and protection’.

The fighting has had dire consequences for the more than 1.6 million internally displaced people and 600,000 refugees who have fled to escape the ongoing violence. The internal displacement has also led to a growing shortage of food as humanitarian needs reach critical levels in the worst conflict-affected states of Unity, Jonglei and Upper Nile.

Christian Aid’s Emergency Programme Officer for South Sudan, Rosie Crowther, has recently returned from Nyal in Unity State, one of the worst affected areas. She said: “The displaced are relying on host communities to survive. I visited one household where 30 people were living and heard reports of others with up to 40. People are sharing what little resources they have but these are running out. There are severe food shortages and people are coping by eating wild foods such as water lilies.

“Fighting in May forced people to flee into the swamps with nothing. Some are starting to return but are finding their homes have been burnt and belongings looted. Cattle have been taken and planting was disrupted. Food, water, shelter, healthcare and basic sanitation are the greatest needs right now.”

Local Christian Aid partner UNIDO is distributing hygiene kits, which include soap, sanitary products and jerry cans for transporting and storing water. Next, they will distribute fast maturing vegetable seeds, fishing nets, water purification tablets, mosquito nets and plastic sheeting for shelter to the most vulnerable households.

Christian Aid supports the work of the South Sudan Council of Churches, which has continued to urge an end to the conflict and encouraged the parties to sign the agreement. The influential group has stated that: ‘Once the guns have fallen silent, there is a window of opportunity, a breathing space in which South Sudanese can consider all the points of disagreement and controversy in a peaceful manner’.

The SSCC Action Plan for Peace, launched earlier this month in Juba, outlines the critical role of the churches in advocating for sustainable peace and supporting grassroots reconciliation. Training of the first 100 of over 600 community peace mobilisers started last year in an initiative led by faith leaders. These mobilisers have begun facilitating grassroots consultations in every state to help ensure that South Sudan’s reconciliation journey is driven and shaped by the people.

Rosie added: “The fighting must stop immediately to avoid further displacement and a long-term approach must be used to achieve sustainable peace.”

If you would like further information, please contact Claire Meeghan on +44 (0)20 7523 2318 or cmeeghan@christian-aid.org. Alternatively, the 24 hour press duty number is +44 (0)7850 242950. 

Notes to Editors:

1. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has recently reported that major UK NGOs and their international partners have only half the money they need to tackle the increasingly desperate humanitarian crisis afflicting South Sudan.

2. According to UN OCHA, up to 7.9 million are at risk of food insecurity during the lean season, and malnutrition is a key concern.

3. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

4. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change www.christianaid.org.uk/images/partnership-for-change-summary.pdf explains how we set about this task.

5. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org

6. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

7. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

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