4 June 2015 - Increased fighting in South Sudan’s Unity State has forced a Christian Aid partner in the area to stop temporarily giving aid to those in desperate need. There are reports of targeted attacks on civilians, rapes and child abduction as the conflict heats up once more.
People are fleeing their homes again and moving into swampland to escape the violence. They are compelled to eat wild food and drink dirty swamp water. The risk of disease, malaria and malnutrition is high.
Relief agencies fear that distributions of emergency supplies may simply bring the people out of the swamps and make them vulnerable to attack, and are working desperately to find a way of getting supplies through. Airdrops to safe locations are one option under consideration.
Christian Aid’s partner working in Unity State is planning its response to deliver emergency life-saving assistance as soon as is possible.
It will distribute mosquito nets, plastic sheeting for shelter and water purification tablets, along with fishing nets. Vegetable seeds and tools will also be provided to those able to cultivate land.
A new report from Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (the international standard for classifying food security) shows an increase in the number of people facing severe food insecurity from 2.5 million people in January to March this year to around 4.6 million people from May onwards.
The deteriorating economy is affecting people countrywide, with a recent statement from the South Sudan Council of Churches highlighting the concerns of the church leaders around the hardship this will trigger and demanding an end to this senseless conflict.
The fighting has meant production of food in the north is dwindling and trade routes have been disrupted. Cultivation in Greater Upper Nile is down 80 per cent this year.
The UN has warned there will be hyperinflation in the coming months – already a plate of food that would normally cost five South Sudanese Pounds (SSP) is now up to 20SSP.
Jolly Kemigabo, Christian Aid country manager in South Sudan, said: “The situation here is now critical. The fighting is directly affecting certain areas in the north but it is also having an impact throughout the country. Household food stocks have run out, cultivation is down and our currency has lost value so now people are spending 80 per cent or more of their income on food.
“It seems the world has ignored South Sudan for 18 months but with no sign of an end to the conflict, we desperately need more funding to respond to this humanitarian crisis”.
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Notes to editors:
1. 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.
2. 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 explains how we set about this task.
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