Tag Archives: famine

For S. Sudan aid workers, bad weather is as much a worry as violence

 

People trudged along the main passageway through the United Nations’ Malakal Camp for Internally Displaced People in South Sudan in late July. The wet season makes life for hundreds of thousands of refugees very challenging, as bad weather can make roads and paths impassable, exacerbate the difficulties of distributing aid. Matthew Abbot/AP

It’s been a grim week for aid workers in South Sudan.

On Monday, a pro-government militia in the contested oil-producing state of Upper Nile shot dead an employee of the humanitarian group Norwegian People’s Aid. That murder was followed by the killings of five aid workers on Tuesday in the same region. Hundreds of others then evacuated the area, leaving behind 127,000 refugees who had depended on their assistance.

The killings underscore the immense difficulties humanitarians face in trying to save tens of thousands of lives. South Sudan’s civil war is pushing the country toward famine, intensifying the need for outside aid. Yet violence against aid workers has been a striking component of the seven-month war, now considered one of the world’s worst conflicts.

The United Nations warns that 3.9 million people need to be fed by year’s end or 230,000 children will suffer acute malnutrition and 50,000 could die. Farmers have missed the planting season because of fighting, and militiamen have looted food stocks meant for hundreds of thousands of civilians.

A massive aid machine – currently the world’s largest, according to the UN – is mobilizing to prevent that disaster scenario. But the barriers are high: Roads are nearly nonexistent here and are clogged by rainy season mud. Those needing food are dispersed across one of the world’s largest grass swamps. Agencies are a billion dollars short of funds, and fighting prevents workers from reaching the worst hit places. Read more…

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Is this South Sudan’s last chance for peace before famine?

People walk through the mud in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp inside the United Nations base in Malakal, South Sudan, July 25, 2014. Andreea Campeanu/REUTERS

With a season of unplanted crops in South Sudan and the United Nations declaring the food security crisis here “the worst in the world,” time is running out to prevent the death by starvation of as many as 50,000 people, analysts say, caught in what is now a seven month civil war.

Diplomats in the neighboring Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa today aim to restart negotiations to get government and rebel forces in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, to stop fighting – even as analysts worry the proliferation of militia groups has put much of the fighting beyond the control of political leaders.

More than 10,000 people have died and 1.5 million are displaced since deep animosity between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar broke into violence last December.

Farmers missed the planting season this spring due to fighting and aid groups are now struggling to reach hungry people, many of whom are caught in out-of-the-way places.

Aid agencies warn of famine before the end of the year if nothing is done to avert it. But already every day children are dying from malnutrition. Relief teams, unable to transport food by road due to rain, mud, and insecurity, have resorted to helicoptering supplies to people trapped by fighting in remote areas.

Humanitarian aid workers here say feeding programs must scale up to reach 3.9 million people in coming months or 230,000 children are in danger of acute malnutrition. They also warn that with South Sudan’s appeal for aid now running short a billion dollars, some life-saving programs will run out of funds by the end of September.  Read more…

In South Sudan, strife looms in few peaceful places left

A woman grinds millet, near two tanks, while children watch in Leer, Unity State, South Sudan July 15, 2014. Andreea Campeanu/REUTERS

 

As South Sudan‘s civil war drags into a seventh month, President Salva Kiir faces new political and military challenges in parts of the young nation that until now were spared violence.

Violence flared again this week in the lucrative and powerful oil-producing states in the east and north, where bitter fighting raged this winter and spring. The new tensions threaten to expand what already seems an intractable conflict.

With peace talks in Ethiopia postponed indefinitely amid new rebel demands over who should participate, rebel and government forces engaged this week near Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, despite two cease-fires.

Meanwhile, a debate in the national capital of Juba over federal vs. state powers in South Sudan reached such a boiling point that the International Crisis Group, a well-known advocacy NGO, called for an emergency UN Security Council session. Read more…

South Sudan cease-fire blows up, days after the ink dries

A general view shows flood waters within the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp in Malakal, Upper Nile State, May 1, 2014. Drazen Jorgic/Reuters

By Jason PatinkinCorrespondent, Will DavisonCorrespondent / May 15, 2014

Malakal, South Sudan; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — A cease-fire inked days ago between South Sudan’s warring leaders is falling apart, dimming hopes for a quick peace that is widely seen as needed to ensure that millions of civilians have access to basic humanitarian aid.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar agreed at a meeting last Friday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to end a brutal five-month civil war that has seen thousands killed and more than a million people displaced. The agreement was nearly identical to a previous cease-fire signed in January, which collapsed in days.

Now, with fighting reported hours after the cease-fire went into effect Saturday night, and continuing daily, it seems the new deal is faring almost as badly as its predecessor.  Read more…

A South Sudan surprise: breakthrough on peace talks? Maybe.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (r.) chats with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the President’s Office in Juba, South Sudan, May 2. Saul Loeb/Pool/AP

Juba, South Sudan — Leaders of both sides of South Sudan’s bloody five-month civil conflict agreed Tuesday to go to Ethiopia for peace talks this Friday.

The announcement comes after a week of heavy diplomacy, with visits to South Sudan’s capital by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry, who threatened targeted economic sanctions against the belligerents. After months of a fruitless peace process, there are at least some tentative hopes now for a breakthrough.  Read more…

Hunger and disease wreak havoc in war-devastated South Sudan

Government soldiers in South Sudan. File photo. CHARLES LOMODONG / AFP

Juba, South Sudan — A long queue forms every morning in frontof a clinic in Tomping refugee camp  of South Sudanese capital Juba, where thousands have sought shelter for fear of being killed for their ethnicity.

Mothers bring children wrapped in blankets whom nurses place on scales to weigh for malnutrition. But one afternoon, the small bundle in the arms of one mother was silent and no longer moved.

“It’s a shame,” said Matthieu Ebel, coordinator of the clinic run by the aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), after he arranged for the tiny body to be collected for burial.

“People think of the fighting. But these are the consequences, too.” Disease and hunger are taking a toll across South Sudan, four months into the conflict between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than 900,000 displaced in the power struggle.

An unknown number of civilians have perished from disease and malnutrition as armed groups have ransacked medical facilities and displaced people have missed the planting season.  Read more…