South Sudan

Byanyima: Catastrophe Looming in South Sudan


clinic geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>The international body says the Government of South Sudan and parties to the conflict particularly the Riek Machar rebels must immediately agree to a ceasefire.

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search geneva; font-size: small;”>“The international community needs to step up efforts to help stop the conflict and saves lives with a massive injection of emergency aid,” said Oxfam.

Oxfam has joined 21 other agencies to publish a report “Loaded Guns and Empty Stomachs”.

“How many lives have to be lost before the parties to the conflict silence their guns and donors respond with more resources? We either act now or face an even larger human catastrophe in the weeks and months to come,” said Oxfam International executive director Winnie Byanyima.

The alarm comes against the backdrop of massacres committed in Bentiu and Bor by former Vice President Riek Machar’s rebels.

Uganda’s Special Forces crack units remain on high alert in Bor after rebels threatened to attack the town.

The rebels last week swept through the oil town of Bentiu and others, leaving a trail of bloodshed and destruction of property.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) strongly condemned opposition forces for killing “hundreds of South Sudanese and foreign civilians” after determining their ethnicity or nationality when they captured Bentiu last week. The killings included attacks on a hospital, mosque and church, and a UN World Food Programme (WFP) compound.

“These atrocities must be fully investigated and the perpetrators and their commanders shall be held accountable,” said the Officer in Charge of UNMISS, Raisedon Zenenga, who also urged the opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces and the Government troops to respect the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement they signed in January.

United States and UN have also warned rebels they would face war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court if they continued to pursue a military path in resolving their conflicts with Kiir.

US top envoy to United Nations, Samantha Power said all opposition forces “responsible for South Sudan horrors and deliberately targeting civilians must be held accountable.” –

Significant food crisis

The UN is due to update its official food security analysis early next month.

Up to 7 million people are already at risk of severe food insecurity in the coming year unless they get more help. More than a million people have fled their homes because of fighting, 270,000 of them into neighboring countries.

Markets and health facilities have been destroyed. Getting aid to people has been very difficult and in some areas impossible. Cropping patterns have been disrupted. Not enough seed has been planted. Seasonal rains are making things worse.

The agencies say that before the latest conflict erupted in December, South Sudan’s food security situation looked promising, although still vulnerable.

But the fighting sparked a humanitarian crisis, displacing a million people and plunging many more into hunger.

“The international community seems to have been stunned by how fast things have deteriorated. It is struggling to find a coherent way to respond,” Byanyima said.

“We need to learn from the mistakes of the past, not repeat them. Mass death needs not be inevitable for South Sudan but we can’t trust to hope and good luck. We need action.”

Alarming rates of malnutrition

A significant food and nutrition crisis is underway. “There are already alarming rates of malnutrition. There is still time to prevent the worst from happening,” Byanyima said.

A severely malnourished child is nine times more likely to die without treatment than a well-nourished one.

There was already twice the number of malnourished children in Jonglei and Upper Nile feeding centers in January 2014 than the year before.

The donor’s conference in Oslo on May 20 gives the international community an opportunity to negotiate an end to the conflict and scale-up food assistance. Currently, the $655.2 million food cluster appeal is only 25.4 percent funded.

Oxfam is working in five areas of South Sudan from the capital Juba to the northern town of Melut and has helped 130,000 people caught up in the crisis. Oxfam is also working with partners in Uganda to help refugees and host communities with water, sanitation and livelihoods needs.


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