Escalating violence in South Sudan which has tragically claimed lives and posed ongoing serious threats to civilians is to be condemned, international aid agency Oxfam Australia said today.
Oxfam Australia’s Humanitarian Manager Meg Quartermaine said deadly fighting broke out over the weekend in the capital of Juba at a time that was meant to be celebrations for South Sudan’s fifth birthday.
More than 200 people are believed to have died in clashes since Friday, but Ms Quartermaine said details had not been verified because of serious disruptions to communications.
The people of South Sudan were bearing the brunt of the violence, which had claimed tens of thousands of lives and left more than 2.5 million people displaced since an escalation in 20 years of civil war broke out in December 2013.
She said Oxfam had more than 100 staff in South Sudan and their safety was of paramount importance.
“Tragically, the volatile situation has deteriorated dramatically and the lives of people in South Sudan remain in serious jeopardy,” Ms Quartermaine said.
“There needs to be an immediate cessation of violence to prevent the loss of more lives.”
Oxfam’s work in South Sudan focuses on providing clean water, public health services and livelihoods support.
Since the start of the crisis, Oxfam has supported nearly 860,000 people with humanitarian assistance and over 350,000 with long-term development and support. Planting and harvests have been disrupted, forcing people to increasingly rely on aid and diminishing markets, rather than growing their own food.
Ms Quartermaine said Oxfam was currently verifying information about humanitarian need and would assess the situation in Juba once movement in the city became safe.
“We have had information that the water network in Juba stopped working on Friday and restoring access would likely become an urgent priority,” Ms Quartermaine said.
“Oxfam, which is a specialist provider of water and sanitation programs, will continue to monitor the situation to ensure it can respond to the humanitarian needs on the ground.”
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