Since the 15th of December, 2013, more than 1,000 people are believed to have died in South Sudan because of fighting between rival army factions.
As talks to end the fighting in South Sudan continue in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, ongoing clashes and mobilization of armed personnel have forced more than 200,000 people to flee from their homes and there are fears this number could increase if a ceasefire is not agreed by the warring parties.
More than 23,000 South Sudanese have had to cross the border into neighbouring Uganda and hundreds of others into neighbouring Ethiopia. In the capital Juba, more than half a million people are in need of food, water, medicines and household items such as pots, pans and buckets. More than 60, 000 have sought refuge in United Nations compounds, and thousands of others in church compounds in the capital, Juba.
People living in Bor and Malakal – which is outside of the capital Juba – are in urgent need of food, clean drinking water, and sanitation services.
How has CAFOD responded to the unfolding humanitarian crisis?
CAFOD has committed an initial £60,000 in immediate humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict, but more funds will be needed over time to meet the scale of the challenge.
Part of that assistance is through its church partner-the Sacred Heart Sisters Congregation in Juba and Malakal town, who are using part of the money to buy to medicines, maize flour, rice, sugar, milk, salt and other household items such as soap, as well as baby items for the new born babies born in the church compound over the Christmas period.
More than 5,000 people have sought sanctuary at St. Theresa’s Cathedral compound in Juba and in Malakal, our partner Sacred Heart Sisters Congregation has been supplying emergency aid to people who have fled the fighting and are living in forests. Sacred Heart Sisters Congregation is providing medical attention to the sick and the wounded as well as food and water.
While CAFOD is not making an appeal, we are accepting donations which should be marked as South Sudan.
What are some of the greatest areas of need?
When a sudden outbreak of fighting like this happens, ordinary people are caught in the firing line. If the fighting continues there will be an even greater pressure to get food, clean water, and shelter to people.
We must not forget that this is a country that only celebrated independence two years ago after decades of civil war. During those two years the country has had to deal with a food crisis and the influx of tens of thousands of South Sudanese returnees and those fleeing conflict in the border areas. Schools and health services are already severely under resourced through years of neglect because of the war. This current conflict puts on hold any progress the country is able to make in supporting its people to earn a living and tackle some of the major issues of poverty affecting millions of people in the country.
What efforts are being made to stop the fighting and suffering of the people?
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), are taking a lead role in trying to end the conflict. Talks are being held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Abba to try and agree an immediate ceasefire.
What is the position of the church with regard to this crisis?
Bishops from various religious groups in South Sudan have spoken out against the violence. In a statement in December they said: “We are concerned by the consequences for our country of the clashes that are occurring in Juba. There is obviously a political problem between leaders within the governing SPLM, but this should not be turned into an ethnic problem. Sadly, on the ground it is developing into tribalism. This must be defused urgently before it spreads. Reconciliation is needed between the political leaders and violence can never be an acceptable way of resolving disputes.’’
The church leaders called on the South Sudan government, the UN and international relief agencies in the country to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced civilians in the capital Juba, and to ensure that water and food are available for the population.
Where does CAFOD work in South Sudan?
CAFOD has been working in South Sudan for over 35 years, since the mid 1970s. CAFOD’s office in Juba was opened in 2006.
CAFOD works in the Upper Nile, Central Equatorial, and West Equatorial States working with communities to get food, assist returnees from the north as well as support those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. In the current crisis, we are responding to the needs of the displaced communities in Malakal and Maban in Upper Nile State and in Juba in Central Equatorial State.
At the height of the East Africa drought in 2011 CAFOD supported 41,713 people with emergency food, water and healthcare in Western Equatorial State in two dioceses of Yambio and Yei.
To download a copy of this Q & A just click below: