12 May 2015 - Fierce outbreaks of fighting in South Sudan’s Unity State have left 300,000 people in need of urgent assistance and forced up to 100,000 people from their homes in the last ten days. This latest surge will add to the two million people in the country already displaced by the civil war since December 2013.
Civilians living in and around Guit, Ngop, Nhialdu, Mayendit and Koch are fleeing in an attempt to avoid the fighting. Christian Aid is warning that the displaced are in urgent need of humanitarian help, but the ongoing fighting is obstructing the efforts of aid agencies and the UN to reach them. Christian Aid is extremely concerned about the impact of the fighting on civilians, and strongly urges all armed actors to refrain from targeting civilians or humanitarian facilities.
Rosie Crowther, Christian Aid Emergency Programme Officer said: “Citizens are being caught up in the fighting. May is the peak of the planting season in South Sudan, when people need to be able to move freely and safely to tend to their crops. This new outbreak of fighting is preventing people from growing the crops they so desperately need and will only exacerbate the ongoing food security situation.”
Christian Aid is supporting projects in the southern part of Unity state to respond to the immediate needs of vulnerable communities through a local partner organisation.
“International agencies have been forced to evacuate staff and scale back significantly, and local organisations are struggling to remain on the ground. If the fighting reaches the town of Leer even more lives will be lost and people will once again be forced to flee into the bush”, said Rosie.
“We are working in some of the worst affected areas to meet immediate food needs, provide safe drinking water, and promote safe hygiene and sanitation practices to help prevent the spread of disease.
“In Koch we have been repairing boreholes so that communities can access safe drinking water. We are training pump mechanics and water committees to ensure that the boreholes are maintained in the longer term, as well as facilitating hygiene awareness campaigns in schools”, she added.
Christian Aid is urging the international community to act fast to provide the necessary funding to supply food and non-food items to the affected communities and put pressure on both parties to find a permanent solution to the conflict.
The present conflict in South Sudan erupted 17 months ago after a political struggle between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar quickly escalated along ethnic lines and rapidly spread across the country. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, and it is anticipated that 6.4 million will need humanitarian aid this year.
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Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 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.
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