“This latest peak of destructive internal strife can be and must be stopped immediately. Political and military leaders have the responsibility to ensure that the current ceasefire is respected. This is no natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster from A to Z”, said Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland.
More than 300 people are believed to have been killed in the latest fighting, which erupted last Thursday. At least 36,000 civilians have been fleeing areas within Juba, according to the UN, and many have searched for security at the UN compounds, with relief agencies and inside churches. NRC, like other relief agencies, has had to halt its relief work.
“We came with all our experts and all our humanitarian resources to provide education, relief and protection for the displaced. We made good progress and provided support to hundreds of thousands. Now we are forced to suspend operations in the most affected areas and worry about the security of our own staff. We cannot help South Sudan if their leaders are not willing to join forces to build their own nation”, said Egeland.
6 million people, more than half of South Sudan´s population, are in need of humanitarian assistance. A food shortage alarm was raised by Norwegian Refugee Council only last week, and the recent fighting will make it even more difficult to reach several parts of the country with necessary assistance.
“Unless the ceasefire holds, the humanitarian situation that is already critical is likely to become worse. We need to be able to safely access people in need of food, water and shelter, or South Sudan will spiral further into a vicious circle of violence and hardship”, said NRC´s Country Director Victor Moses.
Tension has been rising in South Sudan over the last months. Renewed fighting in Wau town has displaced an estimated 83.000 people, during the last 2 weeks.
The latest fighting follows a peace agreement signed in August 2015, ending 21 months of civil war, and the establishment of a Transitional Government of National Unity in April this year.
“All these crucial efforts for peace and stability may be in vain if the renewed fighting continues”, warned Moses.
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- Access to humanitarian services for the vulnerable affected populations should be unhindered and facilitated. Aid agencies must be allowed safe access to displaced populations during this time of crisis.
- Additional peace-keepers should be deployed to areas where civilians are most vulnerable and in need of protection.
- All parties to the conflict must uphold the cease fire and take meaningful and peaceful steps to resolve the conflict and restore security.