Oxfam raises new alarm over a lack of humanitarian access across South Sudan after withdrawing four aid workers who have been trapped by fighting in Malakal.
Oxfam and other aid agency staff who were working inside the UN compound in the town had, until yesterday, been unable to leave since fighting began between opposition and South Sudanese government forces on the morning of Tuesday 18 February.
When the violence in Malakal began, Oxfam had to severely scale back its work at the UN base as regular shelling in the town and violence both inside and outside the base made the movement of staff and supplies very difficult.
Oxfam Australia’s Humanitarian Support Manager Meg Quatermaine said the withdrawal of aid workers further highlights the difficulties of delivering desperately-needed aid to areas where there are hostilities.
“We will get back to work to help the many vulnerable people in Malakal as soon as possible but the utter breakdown in the cessation of hostilities, as exemplified by this round of violence, is creating a difficult situation for us and an even more desperate situation for the nearly one million displaced by violence in South Sudan,” Ms Quartermaine said.
Oxfam plans to resume its activities in the UN base, where around 21,000 people are now living, as soon Wednesday this week. The immediate needs identified by the aid agency are for clean drinking water, food and medical care.
Oxfam ran a long term development programme in the town of Malakal until violence in December caused the agency to suspend its work. Oxfam restarted work in the town on Friday 7 February promoting good hygiene practices among the displaced people sheltering inside the UN base.
Notes to Editors
Oxfam has been working in South Sudan since 1986 on long term development and emergency relief. As a result of the conflict Oxfam has been providing food, water, sanitation and hygiene to around 120,000 displaced people in three locations across the country – Juba, Mingkaman and Malakal. Oxfam is also running an emergency response to South Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda where we aim to reach 20,000 people.