In December 2013 fighting broke out across South Sudan. Since then more than 1.5 million people have been internally displaced and over 500,000 have fled to Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. Here Stella Madete, Oxfam Information and Communications lead in South Sudan, provides an overview of the current situation on the ground and what Oxfam is doing.
Sky-rocketing inflation, conflict and collapsed markets are pushing people in South Sudan to breaking point as the political deadlock enters its 17th month and families face a second 'lean season' since fighting began. Areas affected by the conflict are seeing drastic increases in food prices.
3 million people facing severe hunger
The South Sudanese pound is also depreciating rapidly, increasing the cost of regional food imports and putting pressure on already stretched household budgets. Already, 2.5 million people are facing severe levels of hunger. By June, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) predicts that more than a million people will join them.
Oxfam released a press statement in April highlighting the deteriorating situation in South Sudan and stating that flexible funding remains key, especially in light of the need to adapt to the changing humanitarian context:
"What we're seeing now is families that have spent the past year and a half living on the edge - many have exhausted their food stocks, been displaced from their homes, missed opportunities to plant and farm, and now the economy is showing the strain of a year and a half of conflict,' said Emma Drew, Head of Humanitarian Programs for Oxfam in South Sudan. 'Many people can no longer afford to buy food and other basic essentials; trade in markets has been disrupted, or in many instances, markets have been damaged or destroyed altogether."
Fighting in Upper Nile this month resulted in significant movement of people within the state, particularly around the Fashoda, Akoka, Malakal and Baliet areas. Over 6,640 people fled to the Malakal Protection of Civilians site and are being registered to receive services.
So far, 30,000 people are camped at the site in Malakal. As a result of the fighting, the Malakal airport was closed for nearly a week and movement in Malakal town restricted.
Currently, the situation is calm but tense. Insecurity due to protracted fighting and poor roads are the main challenges faced by humanitarian agencies trying to deliver food and essential items before the rains start.
Oxfam has a dedicated team working across South Sudan to rebuild livelihoods, provide humanitarian assistance and promote active citizenship. We focus on providing clean water, public health and livelihoods support, and work with partners on peace building and governance issues. We are currently supporting over 920,000 people, 570,000 with humanitarian assistance and 350,000 with long term development and support.
Oxfam program areas
Oxfam activities in the last month have included:
- Distributing cash vouchers (Malakal, Minkaman and Rumbek)
- Distributing food items such as oil, sorghum, lentils and salt in (Akobo, Waat, Lankien and Minkaman)
- Repairing and drilling boreholes (Waat, Lankien, Bor and Wau)
- Maintenance of water points and pipelines (Bor and Minkaman)
- Building latrines and sewage treatment facilities (Lankien, Bor and Minkaman)
- Public health promotion around good hygiene and preventing the spread of diseases such as cholera (Lankien, Bor and Minkaman)
- Distributing hygiene kits and other non-food items (Minkaman and Wau)
- Construction of a vocational training centre in Malakal protection of civilians site
- Technical support and training for small scale farmers (Minkaman and Rumbek)
This entry posted by Stella Madete, Oxfam Information and Communications Lead, South Sudan, on 5 June 2015.
Photo: A water distribution point - set up by Oxfam - at the Malakal IDP camp, South Sudan. Credit: Simon Rawles/Oxfam