South Sudan conflict
Tuesday 13 May 2014
South Sudan remains in violent freefall as conflict between the country's military (SPLA) and rebel soldiers, led by Riek Machar, former Vice President of South Sudan (2011-2013), continues. Many people returned to inspect their homes in the south Sudanese town of Bor, many of which had been burned and looted in the fighting. Now the town is under siege again.
Many people have lost relatives to the conflict, as innocent civilians are often caught up in the crossfire between feuding political and ethnic groups. Unexploded landmines and grenades continue to litter the surrounding areas and make returning home even more dangerous. Explosive ordnance disposal teams search for unexploded weapons as part of a humanitarian mine action program.
The conflict, which began in the country’s capital city, Juba, quickly spread throughout the country. According to the UN’s latest report more than one million South Sudanese have been displaced since the conflict began in December - of these 293,000 have fled into neighbouring countries and 923,000 have been forced to seek refuge elsewhere in South Sudan. Thousands gather together in makeshift camps for safety. Others have fled into the bush and are surviving on wild foods.
Away from home and unable to farm their land to produce food or look after their livestock those displaced are reliant on donations, food, clean water, shelter materials and medicine supplies from international charities and national NGOs. Organisations such as the UK charity Christian Aid, which is working through the ACT Alliance, are helping support some of the most vulnerable. But the rainy season is fast approaching, during which up to two thirds of the country will be effectively cut off, making delivering relief much harder.
However, there is an even bigger threat looming. According to the UN Security Council an estimated seven million South Sudanese are now at risk of food insecurity this year. The continuing conflict has severely disrupted the country’s key planting season and, with hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people unable to produce their own food, it is extremely unlikely there will be enough food in storage to see them through the hunger season at the end of the year.
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