South Sudan faces conflict, humanitarian crisis and famine


Robert Mardini of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who visited South Sudan last week, described it as “one of the most complex humanitarian crises anywhere”. “Now worryingly we are seeing severe food shortages and a largely unmeasured spread of COVID-19 making the already catastrophic situation worse,” he said.

While hostilities between the main parties may have stopped or decreased, Mardini told the Associated Press that “fighting with small parties, dissident groups and between communities continues to unfortunately cause death, destruction and displacement.”

Mardini, who has toured Akapo County Hospital in eastern Jonglei state, which serves nearly 200,000 people, said he saw several people recovering from gunshot wounds, including children. He said they were victims of endemic sectarian violence in the country and as a result of historical rivalries, often over livestock and land but sometimes over political agendas organized from the capital.

Other patients’ injuries were much less visible because they were victims of rape and sexual assault, which escalated in the conflict, and there were many children being treated for malnutrition, some of them for malaria at the same time, Mardini said in an online interview from Switzerland on Wednesday.

“These cases are just the tip of the iceberg,” Mardini said. Our latest assessment shows that last year’s harvest was about half of what it was the previous year in nine out of 10 states.

He said, “This fragility is not only due to the conflict, but the impact of the current crisis and disasters of epic scale, the most recent of which was last year’s floods that affected more than a million people, and Jonglei State was one of the most affected areas.”

Mardini said that Red Cross workers on the ground believe that many communities, particularly those who have been displaced from their homes, do not have or ever have access to food, safe drinking water or health care.

Mardini warned that “there is little doubt that the current crisis is about to slide into something more terrifying.”

“Chronic intermittent violence, harsh weather and the economic impact of COVID-19 has pushed more than 7 million people into acute food insecurity,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday on conflict-induced hunger. Level since the country declared independence from Sudan 10 years ago.

Food prices are so high, Guterres said, “Just one plate of rice and beans costs more than 180% of the average daily salary – equivalent to about $ 400 here in New York.”

World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley told the board that he visited the country’s western Pibor County in early February and heard in recent days that “in extreme circumstances, mothers feed their babies with dead animal skin – or even mud.”

“This is a desperate situation that calls for urgent attention,” he said. “Local people call 2021 the“ year of famine. ”Their suffering is the result of the large-scale conflict and the unprecedented floods that occurred in 2019 and 2020. These people are in the crossfire of the conflict as they bear the brunt of the climate crisis.

Mr Mardini of the International Committee of the Red Cross said that solutions to the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan must come from its leaders and “a commitment to secure lasting peace,” but until then, the road to recovery and development will be long and urgent humanitarian needs must be met now.

The United Nations appealed for $ 5.5 billion immediately to avoid multiple famines affecting 34 million people in more than thirty countries, including South Sudan.

On Friday, the Security Council is expected to extend the mandate of the 20,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in southern Sudan for a year. The draft resolution states that its mandate will be “to provide a three-year strategic vision for preventing a return to civil war,” building peace at the national and local levels, and “supporting inclusive and responsible governance and the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections.”

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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