South Sudan’s ceasefire agreement must be adhered to in order to prevent the war-torn country’s hunger
crisis spiralling further out of control, Oxfam said.
The deal, signed by President Salva Kirr and rebel leader Riek Machar on Saturday, gives a short, but vital
window for South Sudanese farmers to safely plant their crops before the rainy season begins.
Oxfam Australia’s Humanitarian Manager Meg Quartermaine welcomed the commitment and reports that it
had so far been observed by both sides, but reinforced that with food security in South Sudan already
stretched to the limit, any deviation would spell disaster.
“This is a welcome and timely breakthrough after months of dashed hopes,” Ms Quartermaine said.
“The proof of this deal will be seen on the ground. Civilians caught up in this bloody conflict need to have
full confidence that they can return to their homes without fear of violence.
“They need to get back to their fields to plant their crops as soon as possible or they will lose the chance of
feeding their families in the coming months.”
As the country’s ‘lean season’ approaches, with malnutrition rates typically peaking in June-July, 7 million
of the country’s 12 million residents are at risk of going hungry and 3.7 million of these are in urgent need of
Violent atrocities have been reported on both sides of the conflict and 1.2 million people have had to flee
their homes, increasing food insecurity for both the displaced and those hosting them. Already low food
stocks have also been looted during the course of the conflict.
Ms Quartermaine said the fighting had hampered efforts to alleviate the suffering by obstructing people’s
access to humanitarian assistance before the rainy season makes large areas of the country inaccessible.
“Even if peace holds, a mammoth humanitarian assistance effort needs to be mobilised to meet the
enormous current and future human need,” Ms Quartermaine said.
“Without governments urgently and generously donating the extra funds we will lose the opportunity this
peace deal has offered.”
In South Sudan, so far, Oxfam has helped 180,000 people with food, clean water, sanitation, public hygiene
messages, vouchers to purchase essential items and cash for work.
To arrange an interview please contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Angus Hohenboken on
0428 367 318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.