Monday, July 16, 2012

Charity Group Warns Of Worsening Refugee Crisis In South Sudan

International charity organization, Save the Children, warned Sunday that the refugee situation in South Sudan is worsening steadily on a daily basis as the already over-crowded camps in the region are ill-equipped to deal with the continued flow of refugees.

The charity said up to 2,000 children are arriving daily at the already over-crowded and flooded camps set up in South Sudan's Unity and Upper Nile states. It added that some families have even been forced to abandon elderly and weak relatives along the way.

It said seasonal rains have turned the region into a quagmire, making the living conditions and the aid effort far more difficult. Further, aid agencies working in the camps are currently struggling to provide clean water, food and shelter to thousands of new arrivals due to the scale of the influx, funding shortages and adverse weather conditions, the charity added.
"Thousands of families are arriving in South Sudan hungry and terrified after walking for days to reach safety. People are coming just as heavy rains make it virtually impossible to access these areas to provide aid," Jon Cunliffe, Save the Children's South Sudan country director, said in a statement.

"The resources are not in place to meet the needs of everyone. The worst-case scenario is now a reality; we are witnessing a full-blown humanitarian crisis in one of the most remote places on earth," he added.

Save the Children has launched an emergency response in refugee camps set up in South Sudan, protecting vulnerable children and providing education to refugees. The aid agency is currently in the process of scaling up its programs in response to the recent influx of refugees.

South Sudan had declared independence from Sudan in July 2010 after it voted overwhelmingly in favor of separation from the North in a referendum. The January 2010 referendum was line with a 2005 peace agreement that ended 22 years of civil war between the Arab North and the Christian and animist South.

Talks between the two nations for resolving outstanding issues triggered by South Sudan gaining independence from Sudan two years ago were stalled in April after fierce border clashes broke out between the two neighboring nations. An estimated 150,000 people have been displaced by the conflict.

In a unanimously adopted resolution in early May, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) had determined that the situation along the Sudan-South Sudan border constituted "a serious threat to international peace and security." Calling on the two countries to immediately end hostilities and resume negotiations, the UNSC declared its intention to take "appropriate measures" if the parties did not comply to the demand by August 2.

The talks between the two neighboring African nations subsequently resumed in late May in the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Ababa, following the UNSC warning. The ongoing talks under the auspices of the African Union (AU) High-Level Implementation Panel are aimed at resolving disputes related to sharing of oil wealth as well as border issues.


Six months ago the Republic of South Sudan became the world's newest nation, officially separating from northern Sudan. But since independence there's been increasing violence in the resource rich border areas of Abyei, Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan and now the situation is worsening again. The United Nations warned that more than two and half million people in South Sudan will require food assistance and Doctors Without Borders says a series of humanitarian emergencies are unfolding as, this month, many thousands of refugees have fled across the border into South Sudan to escape conflict. Jean Pierre Amigo is MSF's Field Coordinator in Maban South Sudan, where they have established a refugee camp. He joined us on a satellite phone.

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