AS THOUSANDS of South Sudanese communities are opening their own doors and offering their meagre resources to refugees fleeing the conflict in neighbouring Sudan, Oxfam is calling for donor countries to step up to avoid a disaster.
During a three-day operations review to South Sudan, Oxfam in Africa Director, Fati N’Zi Hassane, visited Oxfam teams and partners in Akobo in Jonglei state, one of the worst affected regions.
While in Akobo, N’ZI Hassane met families including mothers and children forced to flee their homes in Sudan and Ethiopia as a result of conflict. Many are now living with South Sudanese people, themselves displaced from their own fear of attacks, abduction and from the worsening impacts of climate change.
“People in Akobo include those who have simply exhausted all their available options to make ends meet. They have absolutely nothing left. Despite the many challenges, we met mothers sharing the little they have with other newly displaced arrivals and their children. People here do whatever they can, now it is time to step up as international community and support the people in Sudan and South Sudan”, said N’Zi Hassane.
The fighting in Sudan is rapidly worsening a dire humanitarian situation in South Sudan, with two out of three South Sudanese already suffering from extreme hunger. More than 60,000 people have already crossed the border to South Sudan with as many as 6,000 or more arriving daily, stretching already strained resources.
“As the world focuses on the crisis in Sudan we must act on the consequences it is having on tragedy right next door. For the past five years South Sudan has consistently been the world’s hungriest nation. 43,000 people are already facing starvation. The number of people going hungry is expected to reach over 7.8 million by July,” N’Zi Hassane added.
Sudan is a vital transport and trade route for South Sudan and an important source of sorghum imports across the region. Fighting and instability has disrupted this route, sending food prices rocketing up from what were already historically high levels.
Nyaguka Jiek is among those who are now sheltering new arrivals: “Many mothers are fleeing violence and have nowhere to go with their children. I feel my only option is to help, despite not having enough for my own family needs. In my small hut, I live with four newly arrived mothers and their 11 children. I share with them our food ration”, she said.
Working with local partners, Oxfam is addressing people’s most critical needs in Akobo, including drilling boreholes and repairing existing ones for clean water, and providing food and sanitation facilities. N’Zi Hassane said Oxfam will step up its work, together with local communities and civil society, in support of the government’s own humanitarian responsibilities and efforts.
Oxfam aims to reach 500,000 people through its work with partners in South Sudan over the course of this year, with food, clean water and sanitation.
N’Zi Hassane made a plea for more international resources into the overall humanitarian response in South Sudan. To date, she said, less than a third (27 per cent) of the $1.7 billion UN Appeal for South Sudan has been raised, while an additional $96.1 million is required for the refugees under the Regional Refugee Response Plan for South Sudan.
Currently 9.4 million people (76 per cent of South Sudan’s population) need humanitarian aid. An estimated 7.8 million people face food insecurity, with many facing catastrophic conditions, including more than 1.4 million children under the age of five who are facing acute malnutrition.
Since the first edition of the Global Report on Food Crises in 2017, South Sudan has consistently ranked among the eighth worst food crises in terms of numbers of people affected.
* Source: Oxfam International