Three years after achieving independence, the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan is deepening and the risk of famine will continue to edge closer unless urgent action is taken immediately, international aid agency Oxfam warned today.
An independent future free from war was the vision for the people when South Sudan became the world’s newest nation three years ago today on 9 July 2011. That vision has since been engulfed in conflict, creating a massive humanitarian crisis, further intensified by escalating food insecurity, malnutrition and disease.
Humanitarian Advocacy Coordinator Ben Murphy warned that with appeals to fund the aid effort failing and peace talks stalled, further action was urgently needed to help get South Sudan back on track.
“Three years ago, the South Sudanese people jubilantly celebrated an end to war and the start of new beginnings, but the dream of a peaceful and prosperous nation has been torn apart,” Mr Murphy said.
“This is a country at a tipping point. We will be unable to avert a famine if funds do not start arriving soon to help the people of South Sudan at risk of starvation, disease and violence.”
South Sudan is currently Africa’s worst humanitarian crisis, with nearly 4 million people – a third of the country’s population – at risk of severe hunger. So far, humanitarian assistance has only been able to reach half of those people.
With severe malnutrition rates in some of the most conflict-affected areas of the country, the UN has warned that 50,000 children could die before the end of the year if the aid effort does not increase, with the UN’s current appeal for South Sudan less than half funded.
“The situation we are seeing there is absolutely terrible. Living conditions in UN camps are atrocious, and seasonal heavy rains are compounding these problems and increasing the risk of disease,” Mr Murphy said.
“There is also a real fear that the cholera outbreak which began in mid-April could spread even further.
“Humanitarian access challenges and displacement due to fighting in the Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity states are also seriously hampering aid efforts.”
Oxfam has so far helped more than 260,000 people in South Sudan with food, clean water, sanitation and cash assistance to buy essential items, as well as supporting thousands of refugees who have fled to Ethiopia and Uganda.
“The independence dream of peace and prosperity can still become reality, but it first requires strong leadership from all parties to the conflict and sustained pressure from the international community to end the fighting,” Mr Murphy said.
To support Oxfam’s life-saving work in South Sudan you can donate to Oxfam’s Africa Crisis Appeal by calling 1800 034 034 or visiting our website: www.oxfam.org.au/Africa
For more information or to arrange an interview contact Emma Whalan, Oxfam Media Coordinator on 0418 873 782, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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