As the violence and insecurity spreads in South Sudan the needs of innocent people caught up in it, including more than 100,000 people who have fled their homes, are escalating day by day, international aid agency Oxfam said today.
Oxfam is now working with the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies providing basic essentials including food, clean water and sanitation facilities to thousands of people who have fled their homes seeking security in UN bases in Juba.
Responding to the reported agreement by the Government of South Sudan to immediately cease hostilities, Oxfam’s East and Central Africa Deputy Regional Director John Watt, currently in Juba, said it was an important step forward but the South Sudanese political leadership needed to resolve their differences through peaceful and constructive means.
“This is a welcome step forward towards ending the violence and human rights abuses that have swept through many areas of South Sudan in recent days. However, this truce by the Government will only lead to an end to the fighting if all the political leaders agree to resolve their differences peacefully,” Mr Watt said.
“Oxfam calls on all fighting parties to end the violence immediately and for the UN and aid agencies to be given the necessary support and safe access so they can help protect innocent people caught up in the hostilities and reach communities desperately in need of basic essentials like clean water and sanitation facilities.”
Mr Watt also urged the UN to ensure the quick deployment of the extra troops announced this week.
“Protecting the innocent people caught up in the violence in South Sudan must be the number one priority and the Security Council’s welcome decision to send more troops will help the United Nations provide security for thousands desperately in need,” Mr Watt said.
“We urge their swift deployment and, in particular, reinforcements to be sent to the areas where humanitarian needs are the most severe. Troops should also ensure civilians are protected in and around the UN bases throughout the country where thousands have fled for safety.
“Hostilities must be brought to an end as soon as possible and international pressure must continue so that all parties to the conflict stop fighting and the country is brought back from the precipice.”
Oxfam has worked in Sudan for over 25 years and has a presence in seven of South Sudan’s 10 provinces.
Oxfam’s East and Central Africa Deputy Regional Director John Watt is in Juba, South Sudan and available for interviews.
Oxfam Australia’s Sydney based Africa Policy Coordinator, Matthew Phillips, who returned from South Sudan earlier this year, is also available for interviews.
To arrange interviews or for more information contact Louise Perry on 0414 456 015
People can donate to Oxfam’s Africa Crisis Fund at www.oxfam.org.au/Africa