Oxfam International Blogs - South Sudan http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/tags/south-sudan en Why women refugees must be involved in the decisions that affect their lives http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/19-06-24-why-women-refugees-must-be-involved-decisions-affect-their-lives <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>My name is Susan Grace Duku. I am 33 years old and I have spent 21 of those years as refugee.</strong></p><p>Last week we learned that the number of people in situations like mine - forced from their homes because of violence or persecution – <a href="https://www.unhcr.org/uk/news/press/2019/6/5d03b22b4/worldwide-displacement-tops-70-million-un-refugee-chief-urges-greater-solidarity.html" rel="nofollow">has passed 70 million worldwide</a>. In responding to this unprecedented challenge, it is paramount that refugees ourselves participate in the decisions that directly affect us and in efforts to find solutions.</p><p>Refugees are often victims of the conflicts they flee from. They also face challenges leaving their home countries, finding asylum in a new place, and in living alongside host communities.</p><p><span>Here in Uganda, many have sought refuge in the country for the second or even third time due to repeated conflicts in their home countries, including my native South Sudan. I first came here in 1992, when I was only seven years old. I came again in 2016.</span></p><p>Being repeatedly uprooted and seeking protection has given us years of experience in how to live harmoniously with host communities, how to find creative ways to make ends meet and how to support each other. The pain and sorrow we have endured also drive our commitment to peace - the most durable solution.</p><p><strong>Global Refugee Forum</strong></p><p>In December, world leaders will come together at the <a href="https://www.unhcr.org/uk/global-refugee-forum.html" rel="nofollow">Global Refugee Forum</a>&nbsp;and commit to concrete steps to improve the lives of refugees.</p><p>If I had the chance to address those delegates, I would urge them to ensure that refugee girls are able to realise their full potential.</p><p>I would use the example of the prominent women delegates in the room and ask whether these women would be seated among us if they had not been supported through education, reproductive health services and other related support.</p><p>I would advocate for peace and for governments to embrace tolerance, accountability and reconciliation to prevent conflicts that result in refugee situations.</p><p>I would ask them to support refugees to be agents of peace.</p><p><strong>Refugees must be able to&nbsp;<span>contribute to decision-making</span></strong></p><p>But refugees should not only participate in international discussions – they should also contribute to decision-making at the local level.</p><p>In Uganda, refugees have platforms through which they can express their challenges and ideas. They democratically elect members of community leadership committees, who raise their voices about any recommendations or grievances. There is also a forum of refugees that engages in debates with the Government. I have set up an organization, called Refugee Women and Youth Aid, that brings together 17 groups of women to share knowledge, skills and experience.</p><p>There are lessons here for other countries, but there are also challenges. It is still too rare for refugees to address leaders at the highest levels, who are in a position to change our lives.</p><p>As a woman refugee leader, I have often been left out of important meetings within the settlement. The male folk still hold women in low esteem due to long-standing cultural beliefs that discriminate against women. Because of such patriarchal beliefs, refugee women and girls need extra support to effectively participate in the design, implementation and review of refugee programs.</p><p><strong>Re<strong>fugees need e</strong>ducation and job opportunities</strong></p><p>As a leader, I call on the Ugandan Government and its humanitarian partners to prioritize proper education at all levels for refugees.</p><p>Having large numbers of displaced young people frustrated or bored because they can’t go to school is a recipe for continued conflict, violence and under development.</p><p>Refugees also yearn for work opportunities so they can supplement humanitarian aid and sustain themselves. Some women are forced to trek large distances to find safe water, firewood and construction materials, and sometimes there are conflicts with host communities over these resources. These problems could be solved through tree planting and proper use of natural resources such as land for agriculture and alternative sources of fuel like briquettes.</p><p>There should be more initiatives to bring refugees and host communities together, to help reduce tensions and suspicions that can trigger violence.</p><p><strong>Women must be included</strong></p><p>None of these challenges can be solved without the active participation of refugee, including women.</p><p>We refugees are not responsible for our displacement. We did not choose to become refugees and we face many difficulties.</p><p>We need to be included in spaces where our voices can be heard, and we must be equally represented in decision-making processes.</p><p><em><img alt="Photo: Susan Duku" title="Photo: Susan Duku" height="200" width="200" style="float: left; margin: 0px 20px 20px 20px" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/susan_duku-200.jpg" />This entry posted on 24 June 2019, by Susan Grace Duku, who is head of our partner agency Refugee Women and Youth Aid in Uganda, and is a refugee. She writes about the importance of refugees participating in decisions that affect their lives - one of Oxfam's key asks ahead of the Global Refugee Forum in December.</em></p><p><em>Top photo: Cousins Betty and Florence with their children at the reception center at the Imvepu refugee settlement, Uganda. Credit: Coco McCabe/Oxfam</em></p><p><em>Refugees from South Sudan have been fleeing conflict and hunger in their country, and seeking safety across the border in Uganda. Currently, Uganda is hosting more than 1 million refugees - 82 percent are women and children. Across four districts in settlements like Imvepi and Bidi Bidi, Oxfam and our local partners have reached more than 283,000 refugees with assistance that includes the provision of clean water, sanitation services such as the digging of pit latrines, hygiene promotion, emergency food and livelihoods support, and attention to gender and protection issues. In the last four years, Oxfam has also invested in helping more than 15 local and national organizations build their capacity to respond to humanitarian emergencies such as this one.</em></p><p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p><strong>Read more</strong></p><ul><li><a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/search/node/refugees"><strong>Blogs on refugees and migration</strong></a></li><li><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/refugee-and-migrant-crisis" rel="nofollow"><strong>Oxfam's humanitarian work on the refugee/migrant crisis</strong></a></li></ul></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Why women refugees must be involved in the decisions that affect their lives</h2></div> Mon, 24 Jun 2019 14:29:43 +0000 Guest Blogger 82006 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/19-06-24-why-women-refugees-must-be-involved-decisions-affect-their-lives#comments Dreaming of Peace: The Women Inside South Sudan's Protection of Civilians Camp http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-09-20-dreaming-peace-women-inside-south-sudans-protection-civilians-camp <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>“The world has forgotten about us.”</strong></em></p><p><strong></strong>For 48-year-old Rebecca Nyawal, this is what it means to be forgotten: to live with just two small beds to fit her family of seven, a small stove, a soft ground under their feet that turns into mud during the rainy season, and to boil under an iron-sheet that heats her home like an oven.</p><p><strong>They used to have a better home</strong> at the Malakal town in South Sudan, with a garden where the kids could play, better ventilation, and better access to everything they needed: markets, school, and the chance to make a living. But when war decimated her hometown in 2014, they had to leave everything behind and seek refuge inside the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (<a href="https://twitter.com/unmissmedia" rel="nofollow">UNMISS</a>) Protection of Civilians (PoC) camp.</p><p><strong>“Women here die of heartbreak,”</strong> Rebecca tells us one afternoon, inside the PoC. “Women would stay in their house – they think about the loved ones they have lost in this war, their husbands, their sons, their daughters. And then one day, the women would just be found dead in their homes. They die of heartbreak.”</p><p><strong>Rebecca is joined</strong> by around 25,000 others, also living their lives in waiting, cramped inside the camp, with an average living space of only 17 square meters per person. The&nbsp;Protection of Civilians camp was <a href="https://odihpn.org/magazine/protection-of-civilians-sites-a-new-type-of-displacement-settlement/" rel="nofollow">supposed to offer temporary haven</a> where civilians could be protected from the worst of the conflict. But four years after the first bullets flew in the former Upper Nile state, Rebecca is still living in the cramped conditions inside the PoC.</p><p><strong>Rape, killings, and other form of attacks</strong> on people who ventured out of the camp, even just to collect wood or go fishing, were common for years - and people still don’t feel safe to leave after dark.</p><p><img alt="Women’s bread-making group inside the Protection of Civilians (PoC) camp, South Sudan. Photo: Rhea Catada/Oxfam" title="Women’s bread-making group inside the Protection of Civilians (PoC) camp, South Sudan. Photo: Rhea Catada/Oxfam" height="723" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/02-rebecca-and-friends-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Women’s bread-making group inside the Protection of Civilians (PoC) camp, South Sudan. Photo: Rhea Catada/Oxfam</em></p><h3>Every night, a different heartbreak</h3><p><strong>“The world doesn’t think about what we are going through. The world has forgotten us,” </strong>says Rebecca.</p><p>What would she want the world to know about her life?</p><p>Every night, she said she thinks about the pile of dead bodies outside the PoC gate the day conflict broke out.</p><p>Every night, she thinks about the women and men inside the camp who had suffered long enough from depression and trauma, and have decided to end their lives.</p><p>Every night, a different heartbreak. “I think about all of them, every single day,” she says.</p><p><strong>Rebecca is not alone with her thoughts.</strong> She is surrounded by women who share her dreams, and come together to support each other. As the leader of a women’s bread-making group working inside the PoC, she has become the de facto “Mama” of the group – a title commonly used for elderly, respected women.</p><p>The women’s bread-making group is one of the projects under the Humanitarian and Resilience in South Sudan (HARISS) program, implemented by Oxfam and local partner organization<a href="http://unydasouthsudan.org/" rel="nofollow"> Upper Nile Youth Development Association</a> (UNYDA) in the Malakal PoC and the town itself. The program is geared towards helping people get back on their feet by helping them make a living.</p><p>As the “Mama” of a bread-making group, she is seen by the women as someone they can come to with their problems. Some of the women in the groups were widowed by the war, while the conflict has caused some of them to be separated from their families.</p><p><img alt="Rebecca Nyawal, South Sudan. Photo: Rhea Catada/Oxfam " title="Rebecca Nyawal, South Sudan. Photo: Rhea Catada/Oxfam " height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="3" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/01-rebecca-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Rebecca Nyawal, baking bread. Photo: Rhea Catada/Oxfam,&nbsp;<em>South Sudan.</em></em></p><h3>Friendship, strength - and longing for peace</h3><p>For Rebecca and the members of the group, getting together at Oxfam’s livelihood center in the Malakal Protection of Civilian site, is no longer just about making that soft, chewy bread that people have come to love. It has also become about friendship, about being each other’s strength.</p><p>"I think the bread-making business is the best thing to happen to us inside the PoC," she says. "Not only do we keep ourselves busy and earn money, we also fostered solidarity among us. We share our hopes and dreams, we share our experiences, our sadness and our happiness. Being together is helping us cope with the stress of living inside the camp."</p><p>Rebecca told us that while the women are grateful for this program, what they all long for is peace. “What we ultimately need is to have normal lives, go back to our homes, and not live in fear anymore.”</p><p><strong>“Every night we pray: let peace come to South Sudan.</strong> Keli salam ja fee Junub Sudan,” she says.</p><p>As news of fighting rumbles on after each ceasefire is signed, Rebecca says she suspects that her country’s leaders may never listen to her call, but she repeats those words again and again, hoping they will have weight.</p><p>“Keli salam ja fee Junub Sudan,” she says “Keli salam ja fee Junub Sudan.”</p><p><img alt="Marsa Adyang, member of the women&#039;s bead-making group, Malakal PoC camp, South Sudan. Photo: Rhea Catada" title="Marsa Adyang, member of the women&#039;s bead-making group, Malakal PoC camp, South Sudan. Photo: Rhea Catada" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="4" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/04-marsa-portrait-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Marsa Adyang, together with other women inside the Malakal camp, is being supported by Oxfam’s HARISS program so they can make a living out of making and selling bead accessories. Marsa says: “As a group, we really bonded well. We have tea together, we talk about our lives, our experiences, our problems, our joys. If it’s only one of us who sold beads for an entire day, that person wouldn’t pocket it: she will share it to the others in the group, redistribute it. She collects the money and divide it among ourselves."</em></p><p><em><em>This entry posted on 20 September 2018 by Rhea Catada, Oxfam Media and Communications Lead, South Sudan. </em></em></p><p><em><em>Top photo: Rebecca Nyawal, South Sudan. </em>All photos credit: Rhea Catada/Oxfam.</em></p><p><em>Oxfam and our partners are working across South Sudan <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/18-05-11-making-difference-south-sudan-ensuring-those-need-are-not-forgotten">to save lives</a> and help people build for the future.&nbsp;Since the conflict's start in 2015, we've reached over 500,000 people with emergency and longer-term support. The work described in this blog is carried out with the support of <a href="https://www.ukaiddirect.org/" rel="nofollow">UK Aid</a>.</em></p><h3>Read more</h3><ul><li><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/hunger-crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow"><strong>Support Oxfam's work in South Sudan</strong></a></li><li><strong>Blog: <a href="https://views-voices.oxfam.org.uk/gender/2018/05/resilience-in-south-sudan-surviving-today-hope-for-tomorrow" rel="nofollow">Resilience in South Sudan: surviving today, hope for tomorrow</a></strong></li></ul><p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Dreaming of Peace: The Women Inside South Sudan&#039;s Protection of Civilians Camp </h2></div> Thu, 20 Sep 2018 21:20:34 +0000 Guest Blogger 81713 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-09-20-dreaming-peace-women-inside-south-sudans-protection-civilians-camp#comments Making a difference in South Sudan: Ensuring those in need are not forgotten http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-05-11-making-difference-south-sudan-ensuring-those-need-are-not-forgotten <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Oxfam emergency team leader Cecilia shares her experiences delivering humanitarian aid on the front line in South Sudan. "If we don’t make sacrifices, who will?"</strong></p><p>I’ve seen a lot in my job. As an emergency responder, I am usually close to the front line and the people who have fled from it.</p><p>I have seen people shot as they collect drinking water from a river and people giving every last drop of energy to save others. I saw the country start to climb to its feet after independence in 2011 and I’ve seen it torn apart by conflict since 2013. I’ve seen the best and worst of the people of South Sudan.</p><p><strong>I’ve been doing this job for 8 years</strong> – moving from place to place usually every three months – so I have seen more than most.</p><p>In this conflict, in which everything often seems out of the control of us ordinary citizens, it is a rare feeling to know that you can have large and positive impact. But I have that. I lead a big team of people with even bigger hearts wherever I go: water engineers, latrine builders, health promoters, teacher trainers and community protection specialists.</p><p><strong>Together, we help save lives and keep people going.</strong></p><p><img alt="Women carrying water in buckets that they have collected in Buong, South Sudan. Credit: Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title="Women carrying water in buckets that they have collected in Buong, South Sudan. Credit: Tim Bierley/Oxfam" height="683" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/111210lpr-buong-women-carry-water-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Women carrying water in buckets that they have collected in Buong, South Sudan. Credit: Tim Bierley/Oxfam</em></p><p>We’ve just come back from two remote villages called Buong and Weichjol, where thousands of people arrived after fighting came to their towns last year. When our team arrived, the needs were huge.</p><p><strong>There was no clean running water</strong>, so people were drinking and washing with swamp water. Diseases had spread and with few medical facilities in the town, things were quickly getting worse.</p><p>My team drilled new water points and repaired broken ones. We showed people how to treat and prevent eye infections that were by then endemic in the town – and which would cause blindness if untreated. We helped people pay for their loved ones to travel to a health clinic if their sickness was life-threatening. We trained teachers to make sure all those newly arrived children don’t lose their education as well as their homes.</p><p><strong>We made a difference.</strong></p><p><img alt="Malakal used to be South Sudan’s second largest city, but now resembles a ghost town as thousands of people have fled the violence there. Credit: Bruno Bierrenbach Feder/Oxfam" title="Malakal used to be South Sudan’s second largest city, but now resembles a ghost town as thousands of people have fled the violence there. Credit: Bruno Bierrenbach Feder/Oxfam" height="826" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="2" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/105648lpr-malakal-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Malakal used to be South Sudan’s second largest city, but now resembles a ghost town as thousands of people have fled the violence there. Credit: Bruno Bierrenbach Feder/Oxfam</em></p><p><strong>Being there to help my country people can be so rewarding</strong> of course, but this role has also brought some of the worst experiences of my life. In 2014, I was working in a camp in Malakal when heavy fighting broke out in the town. We could not go outside for days because the fighting was so heavy. We just sheltered, unable to reach our food stocks and, worse, unable to help.</p><p>Sometimes I wish we could stay to see the long-term results of our work. but that is the nature of the job. We act quickly and then have to move on.</p><p>There is always another emergency we must respond to.</p><p>Before we go though, I make sure the needs of the people in each place are heard and that the organizations that will continue our work know exactly what they must do.</p><p>We do most of our work in very remote areas – sometimes in the middle of swamps, sometimes between front lines, sometimes virtually out in the bush.</p><p><strong>I see it as my duty to make sure they are not forgotten.</strong></p><p><em>Oxfam and our partners are <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/hunger-crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">working across South Sudan</a> to provide life-saving clean water and promote awareness of the key ways in which disease can be stopped from spreading.</em></p><p><em>Ongoing projects include drilling and repairing boreholes, digging latrines and training health promoters to lead on disease prevention in their communities, wherever they go. </em></p><p><em>The work of Cecilia’s emergency response team is carried out with the support of European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (<a href="https://ec.europa.eu/echo/" rel="nofollow">ECHO</a>).</em></p><p><em>This entry posted by Cecilia Kiden, on 11 May 2018. Cecilia is a team leader in Oxfam's roving Emergency Preparedness &amp; Response team in South Sudan. Her team travels around South Sudan responding to the most urgent water, sanitation and education needs and helping to keep people safe from disease, malnutrition and violence. She has worked for Oxfam since 2011, starting out as a Public Health Promotion Assistant, before working her way to her current position.</em></p><p><em>Top photo: Cecilia and Gatkuoth work on a borehole repair in Buong camp, South Sudan. Credit: Tim Bierley/Oxfam<br></em></p><p></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Making a difference in South Sudan: Ensuring those in need are not forgotten</h2></div> Fri, 11 May 2018 14:29:30 +0000 Guest Blogger 81542 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-05-11-making-difference-south-sudan-ensuring-those-need-are-not-forgotten#comments In South Sudan, Oxfam races the rains to save lives http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-04-04-south-sudan-oxfam-races-rains-save-lives <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>In the middle of war, even the simple solutions to staying healthy can feel impossible. In South Sudan, Oxfam is bringing education and resources to communities to help save lives - every day.<br></strong></p><p>"You can do many simple things to keep control of cholera and diarrhea," explains Yoal, an Oxfam health volunteer in Pading, South Sudan. But it gets more complicated when your town’s water pumps break down and people are forced to drink swamp water. When animals drink and defecate in the same water sources. When there are no toilets.&nbsp;When you only have one container for bathing, collecting water, and washing clothes and dishes. When conflict cuts off your town from almost all trade and the price of soap is more than many people earn in a week. When sick people must walk 30 miles through blistering heat to reach the nearest hospital.</p><p>“It is hard for people to keep healthy here,” Yoal sighs. “In 2017, we had so many cases of cholera and diarrhea. We lost 27 people.”</p><p><img src="https://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/default/files/yoal-1240.jpg" alt=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" data-delta="1" data-fid="10877" data-media-element="1"><br><br><em>Yoal, an Oxfam community health volunteer, teaches the importance of keeping water containers clean in Lankien. Photo: Tim Bierley/Oxfam</em><br><br>Yoal’s home town of Pading is a small cluster of cone shaped huts in Nyirol County in the northeast of South Sudan. It is extremely remote – surrounded by huge stretches of almost completely flat land, compressed into uniformity by the swamps which swell in the rainy season between May and October. The swamps make delivering aid to places like Pading extremely difficult and they also increase the risk of cholera, as the expanding waters soak and mix up everything in their path.</p><p>Soon, rains will thunder down on Pading again. With lives at stake, Oxfam is racing to make sure communities like this one are prepared with the means to fight off another outbreak during the wet season.</p><h3>Oxfam and local leaders respond ahead of the rains</h3><p>Last month, engineers from our mobile emergency response team repaired the town’s two water pumps, so Pading will have clean water this year. Now we’re working with volunteers like Yoal to teach people practical ways to keep disease at bay, as well as handing out ustensils like water buckets, containers for bathing, soap and drinking cups.</p><p>The key to surviving in extremely risky situations like this, Yoal says, is being completely thorough.</p><p>“Sometimes, everyone within the family has to rely on the same containers for lots of different uses,” he says. “You have to be extremely careful about how you use your resources.”</p><p>He explains that <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/push-south-sudan-deadly-civil-war-171214071246774.html" rel="nofollow">as the war has dragged on</a>, people have grown increasingly tired. They have seen friends and family die. It can be hard to persuade people that it’s possible to stop the slide, when it is clear that the country's relentless conflict is forcing people into ever worsening positions.</p><p>“You have to give really practical support like telling people that even if they cannot afford soap for washing, they can use ash. They should boil water if they are drinking it from the swamp. We explain exactly how each thing can affect them.”</p><h3>Family's health is most important</h3><p>Convincing people that change is possible is not still not always easy, but Yoal says there is one thing that unites everyone: “It’s when people see the impact on their children’s health that they are really affected by what I say. Everyone just wants to keep their family safe.”</p><p>Nyawal, who volunteers for Oxfam in Lankien, a town nine hours walk from Pading, knows too well the impact cholera can have on a family. She lost two children to the disease last year. Like so many mothers in South Sudan, she felt that their lives were out of her control.</p><p><img src="https://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/default/files/110583lpr.jpg-nyawal-smile-1240.jpg" alt=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" data-delta="2" data-fid="10878" data-media-element="1"></p><p><em>Nyawal, smiling with one of her children whose health has improved, is an Oxfam volunteer in Lankien helping with water and sanitation work. Photo: Tim Bierley/Oxfam</em><br><br>“I have always kept things clean and done everything I can to look after my family,” she says, but adds that people across the community do not realise the constant level of vigilance needed to prevent the spread of cholera.</p><p>Cholera can spread extremely quickly and through the most innocuous-seeming sources. Nyawal says she always knew that you should wave flies away from your food, for example. It’s instinctive. But she hadn’t seen it as a life and death matter. She doesn’t know what it was that caused her children to fall to cholera, but she wants to make sure her neighbors don’t suffer the same fate.</p><p>“As someone who went through this experience I have to keep telling people to take care of themselves and their children – how to help stop these diseases. We’ve brought tools, including rakes and other types of tools to help people clean up the areas around their houses and we’re telling them how to ensure their food is safe.”</p><h3>Clean water isn't always an option in a warzone</h3><p>Just as it is impossible to keep every fly from infecting food, sometimes the conflict takes health completely out of people’s control. Just outside Lankien, William a village elder explains how fighting in the area forced him and his community to flee deep into the bush, fearing attacks on civilians. The priority was to hide, so it was not possible for people to use functioning boreholes in the area: most were close to the road and therefore considered to be too exposed.</p><p><img src="https://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/default/files/110575lpr-william-1240.jpg" alt=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" data-delta="3" data-fid="10879" data-media-element="1"></p><p><em>William and his family were forced to flee violence and were too afraid to seek out clean water or boil water where they were hiding. Photo: Tim Bierley/Oxfam</em><br><br>“During this time, we had to drink swamp water,” he says. “It was hot and dirty.”</p><p>He and his family could not even treat the water by boiling it, as demonstrated by Oxfam’s health volunteers, for fear that the smoke would give away their position. And almost inevitably disease spread.</p><p>“A lot of us got sick at this time,” says William. “People lost their lives.”</p><p>In a country at conflict, it is extremely hard for communities to eradicate the risk of disease completely. Having access to clean water and the utensils needed to be thorough in hygiene practices makes a huge difference, but even then, war stacks the odds against people and their health. Regular bouts of gunfire force people to prioritise physical safety over health; immediate survival over longevity. The effects of these choiceless decisions are then compounded by the resulting destruction of water sources, of trade, of whole ways of life. People continue to be forced from the homes, their routines, and their means of looking after themselves.</p><p>As long as there is fighting, thousands will continue to suffer from entirely preventable diseases. For now, Oxfam will continue to help people access clean water, maintain their dignity and keep their communities alive. Together, that is something we can at least control.</p><p><em>This entry posted by Tim Bierley, Information &amp; Communications Officer, Oxfam in South Sudan, on 4 April 2018. All photos: Tim Bierley/Oxfam.</em></p><p><em><em><strong>Oxfam and our partners are working across South Sudan to provide life-saving clean water and promote awareness of the key ways in which disease can be stopped from spreading. Oxfam's work described in this article is carried out with the support of Disasters Emergency Committee and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).&nbsp;<strong>In 2017 we reached over 500,000 people with emergency and longer-term support -- <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/hunger-crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">please help us reach more people</a>.</strong></strong> </em></em></p><p><em><em><strong>Read the blog: <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/18-03-22-peoples-humanitarians-south-sudan-saving-lives-front-line">The people's humanitarians of South Sudan: Saving lives on the front line</a></strong></em></em></p><p><em><em><strong>Read the new report: <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/hungry-peace-exploring-links-between-conflict-and-hunger-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">Hungry for peace: exploring the links between conflict and hunger in South Sudan </a></strong>- recommendations for the international community and warring parties on what they can do to stop the violence, increase access to humanitarian aid and allow the people of South Sudan to recover.</em></em></p><p></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>In South Sudan, Oxfam races the rains to save lives</h2></div> Wed, 04 Apr 2018 12:56:47 +0000 Tim Bierley 81467 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-04-04-south-sudan-oxfam-races-rains-save-lives#comments The people's humanitarians of South Sudan: Saving lives on the front line http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-03-22-peoples-humanitarians-south-sudan-saving-lives-front-line <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>Working with local humanitarians in South Sudan, we're saving lives by helping provide clean water and public health promotion.</strong></em></p><p>“Whenever I arrive for work, people always shout ‘This is the man who has come to keep us alive!’” smiles 37-year-old plumber Gatkuoth as he lays down his wrench. Another day’s work is complete; another pump flowing with water.</p><p>One of hundreds of local humanitarians that Oxfam has trained and worked with in the past year, Gatkuoth is from Buong – a sandy scattering of mud and grass houses in the north east of South Sudan. Until last year, his town had managed to avoid the direct grip of the country’s four-year war, but fighting devastated this region in 2017. When shells blasted through nearby towns including Waat and Walgak, 200,000 people abandoned their homes almost overnight. Of those, thousands fled to Buong. Many did not make it. Everyone you meet here lost family or friends in the attacks.</p><p>Even after arriving in Buong though, the threat to life was far from over. As the village population swelled, water pumps began to break down and the risk of disease grew. People were forced to turn to dirty drinking water.</p><p><strong>Calling local humanitarians</strong></p><p>In the days and weeks after the fighting, Oxfam and other agencies raced to find and reach displaced people in scattered and remote locations – including Buong. When we landed in a village close by, we called for support from local humanitarians we’d previously worked with.</p><p>Gatkuoth was one of those who immediately stepped forward to join our engineers and together they got several hand pumps flowing again. With Oxfam’s rapid response team racing against the clock to find and bring water to tens of thousands of people spread across vast plains, our engineers took off quickly once work was complete; but they left Gatkuoth with a healthy supply of spare parts.</p><p>“Today’s repair is my eighteenth since then”, he says wiping his hands down oily blue overalls.</p><p>“I sometimes have to walk for two days [to get to a broken water point],” he says, blowing out his cheeks. “And when you arrive there, the work has not even started, of course.” His is the story of a true people’s humanitarian – and he is joined by dozens more on the front line.</p><p>The next to step up as emergency responders were the public health volunteers. With few latrines for thousands of new arrivals and people forced to drink stagnant rain water when boreholes broke down, fears of cholera spread. Again, we appealed for help and again, dozens of people put their hands up. Many of them had trained as disease prevention specialists in Walgak – before the town was virtually razed to the ground last April.</p><p><strong>Clean water saves lives</strong></p><p><img src="https://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/default/files/thokuang_hygiene-promoter_cholera_south-sudan-1240.jpg" alt=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" data-delta="3" data-fid="10854" data-media-element="1"></p><p><em>Thokuang, Hygiene Promoter for Cholera, South Sudan.</em></p><p>Thokuang, one of the thousands to arrive from Walgak, was one of them.</p><p>“I am trying hard to persuade people to wash their hands at the right time, drink borehole water – or at least boil the swamp water – to save their lives,” she says.</p><p>Watching as Gatkuoth and his team heave a line of dented pipes from the ground and replace them with smooth new ones – one of 12 repairs carried out in Buong - Thokuang said that before this work, “People would either have to queue for up to six hours or get water from the swamp.” Being out of the home for so long often means women, hundreds of whom have been widowed by the conflict, must choose between having clean water, or preparing food for their children. One or the other.&nbsp; Walking home after dark can also bring huge risks to women.</p><p>“Back in Walgak, we had many boreholes, so getting water was easy,” she says.</p><p>But staying had not been an option. “We didn’t just hear the guns in the distance. We saw the faces of the people firing them,” she says, eyes wide.</p><p>Trained workers like Thokuang are central to the health of communities forced to move. Having humanitarians embedded in the community proves vital, especially when fighting takes towns out of reach.</p><p><strong>Conflict all around, the work goes on</strong></p><p>The sound of heavy shelling sometimes rips through the cool night air of Buong, the horizon flashing brightly. The village is 20 kilometers from Waat, where most of those missiles are bound, but the sound is like thunder overhead. Chuol, who is also working as a community hygiene promoter – and visiting Buong today to pick up water treatment tablets – lives just a 40-minute walk from the front line. He trained with Oxfam during calmer times last year, but today his village, which continues to be hit by stray projectiles, has been declared a no-go zone by NGOs.</p><p>“We decided to stay because there was no other place to go,” he adds.</p><p>Is he the last humanitarian worker there? “Well not quite. There are four of us in the team,” he smiles. The workload has become immense as the situation in the village deteriorates. Only two of five waterpoints are still functioning.</p><p>“Some people are drinking water from the swamps. Many of us are suffering from diseases. There have been many cases of diarrhoea and people have been dying. I cannot say exactly how many, but let me say this: people are dying all the time.”</p><p><img src="https://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/default/files/chuol_hygiene-promoter_cholera_south-sudan-1240.jpg" alt=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" data-delta="1" data-fid="10852" data-media-element="1"></p><p><em>Chuol, Oxfam Hygiene Promoter for Cholera, South Sudan.</em></p><p>Chuol spends his weeks going from house-to-house and school-to-school, giving practical advice to keep diseases away. He grits his teeth: “We have seen some good changes in habits, but there is still more to do. We must keep going.”</p><p>He and his team are facing an exceptionally difficult task, but without them, the situation of their people would be even worse.</p><p>Back at the borehole, Gatkuoth is still being thanked by people gathered around the water pump, but he acknowledges that he, Thokuang and Chuol face an overwhelming task: “Maybe I will train all of my children – the boys and the girls – to be pump mechanics if they want to be! I hope they do. I want people to look at them the same way that communities look at me.”</p><p><img src="https://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/default/files/gatkuoth_plumber-portrait_south-sudan-1240.jpg" alt=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title=" Tim Bierley/Oxfam" data-delta="2" data-fid="10853" data-media-element="1"></p><p><em>This entry posted by Tim Bierley, Information &amp; Communications Officer, Oxfam in South Sudan, on 22 March 2018. All photos: Tim Bierley/Oxfam.</em></p><p><em><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">Oxfam and our partners are working across South Sudan</a> to provide life-saving clean water and promote awareness of the key ways in which disease can be stopped from spreading. </em></p><p><em>Ongoing projects include drilling and repairing boreholes, training pump mechanics like Gatkuoth to keep them in shape, digging latrines and training health promoters to lead on disease prevention in their communities, wherever they go. Oxfam's work in Buong is carried out with the support of UK Aid and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).</em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>The people&#039;s humanitarians of South Sudan: Saving lives on the front line</h2></div> Thu, 22 Mar 2018 17:02:12 +0000 Tim Bierley 81449 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-03-22-peoples-humanitarians-south-sudan-saving-lives-front-line#comments Diary of an Oxfam aid worker http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-03-09-diary-oxfam-aid-worker <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>Originally from the Philippines, Duoi Ampilan has helped people facing disaster all over the world. Here, he tells us why his job is now more important than ever.</strong></em><br><br><strong>Dear Diary,</strong><br><br>So much has been said and written about our sector's issues and shameful experiences but not much on how we move heaven and earth; on how we face our fears every day; and how we sacrifice ourselves to be able to faithfully render our vowed responsibilities. It is not all about the work but the heart we put into our work and what we are willing to endure in the name of service.<br><br>Let me tell you, my Dear Diary, some of my experiences with Oxfam when I was deployed to some of the most difficult contexts on Earth. Among the closest to my heart is my 12 months of work in <strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">South Sudan</a></strong> before and after its independence. That is where I developed further the love for this work. I broke my heart many times because of the suffering of the people.<br><br>You can imagine a situation where people wait for two days to get a drinking water. Women and children in many villages walked hours in search for water. In the village of Amethaker in Gogrial East, children only wash every 3 weeks because the place was too dry during the six-month drought.<br><br>I am glad that we drilled some boreholes to some of these thirsty communities. It was so nice to hear people praising us because we quenched their thirst. But you know Dear Diary, much of the credit should be given to our supporters, who have been very generous in extending their love and generosity.<br><br>At this portion of my writing Dear Diary, I shed tears. I never cried when I was stung by scorpions twice in South Sudan, when I got malaria and typhoid fever. I cried as I asked myself what will happen if people will no longer support us for their regular donations because of the work of a few men? Because there are more people in many countries needing our support and services.<br><br><img alt="Doui leading the volunteers for the rehearsal on Hand-Washing dance, part of Oxfam&#039;s hygiene promotion program after Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines, November 2013." title="Doui leading the volunteers for the rehearsal on Hand-Washing dance, part of Oxfam&#039;s hygiene promotion program after Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines, November 2013." height="284" width="660" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/i-am-leading-the-volunteer-for-the-rehearsal-on-hand-washing-dance-typhoon-haiyan-in-philippines-680.jpg" /></p><p><em>Doui leading the volunteers for the rehearsal on Hand-Washing dance, part of Oxfam's hygiene promotion program after Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines, November 2013.&nbsp;Photo: Oxfam</em></p><p>Do you remember the <strong>Ebola outbreaks in West Africa</strong>? Among other humanitarian aid workers, I was called to respond but I refused. I was fearing for my life. But when I realized that I am living not only for myself but for others, then I had to conquer my fears and the uncertainties. I worked in Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2014 and 2015. I had to embrace the social stigma too. Nobody wanted to touch me or even sit beside me months after I served in West Africa.<br><br>I also worked in<a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-yemen" rel="nofollow"><strong> Yemen</strong></a> in 2016 and 2017 even though my family and friends were persuading me to change career when they learned that I was heading to support the people pushed by the civil war into the desert and into the sea. It was not easy living under the falling bombs and also hearing the melancholy of the people day in and day out. I was trapped in Aden, my Dear Diary, when I needed to go home because my father passed away. Every day was very long and tormenting emotionally. I wanted to support my grieving family but I could not go home.</p><p>Dear Diary, if others are not true to their vowed promise to help people in need in times of calamity while working with any organization, please do not forget that there are those who are moving mountains to ensure that every cent that people give is reaching people who urgently need help.</p><p>Please do not forget too that many of us have lost their lives while we are delivering humanitarian services in many of the world's biggest crises.</p><p>I put my heart into my work because I know that not everyone has this honor and privilege to be of service to mankind this way.</p><p><em>Note from Oxfam:</em><br><em>If you'd like to send Duoi a message, please email <strong><a href="mailto:feedback@oxfam.org.uk" rel="nofollow">feedback@oxfam.org.uk</a></strong> and we will pass your message on.</em></p><p><em>Photo at top: Duoi checking hygiene kits in Yemen, where Oxfam, working with local partners, has reached more than 1.5 million people with humanitarian aid since July 2015. Credit: Oxfam</em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Diary of an Oxfam aid worker</h2></div> Fri, 09 Mar 2018 12:53:01 +0000 Duoi Ampilan 81435 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-03-09-diary-oxfam-aid-worker#comments After harvests fail and thousands flee homes, famine looms again in South Sudan http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-03-05-after-harvests-fail-and-thousands-flee-homes-famine-looms-again-south-sudan <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>South Sudan's brutal four-year civil war has left four million people displaced and killed thousands. It has also forced millions into poverty and is pushing people to their absolute limits. Oxfam aid worker Tim Bierley shares some of the horrific stories that have become almost commonplace in the country.</strong></p><p>With the ground exploding around her and bullets whizzing past, Ruth* and her mother didn’t have time to think about what they were leaving behind. They yelled for Ruth’s young brothers and sisters to come and scoop up the youngest. No time to consider how they would cope without their crops, their cattle, their home. They started running. <br><br>Soon, Ruth would have to leave her mother behind as well. “They used very heavy bullets. Big weapons,” Ruth says. “My mother was with us when we started running, but I saw her falling next to us. She had been shot. Killed.”<br><br>Ruth and her siblings walked for seven days before they felt they were out of harm’s reach, sleeping among the bushes wherever the night found them. Eventually, they arrived in Akobo, exhausted and hungry.</p><p>This is the kind of extraordinary, extreme, horrific story that has become almost commonplace in parts of South Sudan. Ruth is one of 25,000 people to arrive in Akobo in the past year. One of four million people who have fled their homes since the war started four years ago. And one of over 600,000 people Oxfam is working hard to support.</p><h3>Famine looms again</h3><p>One million people are now on the brink of famine in South Sudan after a harvest season in which rains fell on abandoned and charred plots; this in <a href="http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article20272" rel="nofollow">a country once touted</a> as the future bread-basket of Africa.</p><p>The situation here is getting worse, which is the only way things can go if the war continues. So, what can we do? For now, we have to help people keep going – to make it through until they have the peace they desperately need.</p><p>While talks to end the war continue <a href="https://www.voanews.com/a/south-sudan-peace-talks/4247854.html" rel="nofollow">with no end in sight</a>, people across South Sudan are straining every last sinew to keep their families alive. Take Sarah*, a new mother of twins I met in Nyal last year: before her new boys were a couple of months old, fighting came to their town in Leer County, where famine was declared last year. Their only path to safety was through the Sudd, an immense swamp dotted with remote islands.</p><p><img alt="Sarah and her new twins fled fighting and battled malnourishment in South Sudan. Photo: Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title="Sarah and her new twins fled fighting and battled malnourishment in South Sudan. Photo: Tim Bierley/Oxfam" height="824" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="2" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/sarah-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Sarah and her new twins fled fighting and battled malnourishment in South Sudan. Photo: Tim Bierley/Oxfam</em></p><h3>Struggle for survival</h3><p>In blistering 40-degree heat, she waded through the water, carrying her children for several days until they reached one of the islands. With little growing on the dry and sandy ground, she had to search for water lily bulbs for her family to eat.</p><p>“We lived like this for two months before the sound of guns closed in again,” she said.</p><p>By then, Sarah was weak and her children badly malnourished. When Oxfam staff found her, one of her boys, who was now seven months old, weighed less than when he was born. Under an agreement we have with local canoe drivers, we helped her pay to get herself and her family to the mainland, a two-day journey. At last she was able to get them emergency treatment at a clinic and when I last saw her, she and her family were regaining their health well. But the battle she had to fight just to bring her family back to some kind of normality is absolutely staggering.</p><h3>Fleeing war and hunger</h3><p>Occasionally you can see a glimpse of what South Sudan life could be like in better times.</p><p>In Bor, a town devastated in the early days of the war, but now recovering gradually after three years away from the front line, I met Rebecca*. She had lost her entire herd of cattle to armed raiders last year.</p><p>Left with no way of feeding her family, she turned to vegetable farming. Oxfam helped her out with some seeds and tools and she took it from there.</p><p>“When this garden is going well, we produce so much that you can’t carry it to the market on your own. I hire a motorbike and strap it on to that instead,” she said.</p><p>Fewer and fewer people are in a position to grow their own food though. In the especially fertile south, <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/07/south-sudan-ongoing-atrocities-turn-countrys-breadbasket-into-a-killing-field/" rel="nofollow">Amnesty last year reported</a> of civilians shot, hacked to death with machetes and burnt in their homes. Many parts of this land which used to provide food for the country are now deserted. Most of those who can flee, have done so.</p><p><img alt="Rebecca received vouchers to help support her farming. Photo: Tim Bierley/Oxfam" title="Rebecca received vouchers to help support her farming. Photo: Tim Bierley/Oxfam" height="826" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/109625lpr-rebecca-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Rebecca received vouchers to help support her farming, and training in good cultivation, storage and marketing techniques. Photo:&nbsp;<em><em>Tim Bierley/Oxfam</em></em></em></p><h3>Oxfam is there</h3><p>The past few weeks have rightly prompted self-reflection and further change within Oxfam. There has been a great deal of anger and sadness at the despicable behavior that went on in our organization. But <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/immediate-response-actions-sexual-misconduct" rel="nofollow">we are resolved</a> not only to put it right, but to keep doing what we are good at too – supporting people and saving lives.</p><p>Last year, the dedication of our staff and supporters helped Oxfam assist <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/hunger-crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">over half a million people here in South Sudan</a>.</p><p>As bullets continue to fly, fields go untended and the economy buckles under siege from a dismal <a href="https://www.oxfamamerica.org/explore/research-publications/the-cost-of-living-and-the-price-of-peace-economic-crisis-and-reform-in-south-sudan/" rel="nofollow">war economy</a>, Oxfam will continue doing everything we can to help keep people going.</p><p><em>*Names changed for their safety.</em></p><p><em>This entry posted by Tim Bierley, Oxfam Communications Officer, Oxfam in South Sudan, on 5 March 2018. Tim travels to Oxfam program areas across South Sudan to listen to the stories of people affected by the crisis and learn about their needs to help Oxfam improve its projects in the country.</em></p><p><em>Top photo: <em>Ruth*, recently arrived in Akobo after conflict came to her town in South Sudan.</em> Photo: <em>Tim Bierley/Oxfam</em><br></em></p><h3>What you can do now<em><br></em></h3><ul><li><strong>Support <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/hunger-crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">Oxfam's humanitarian work in South Sudan</a></strong></li><li><strong>Read the new report: <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/hungry-peace-exploring-links-between-conflict-and-hunger-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">Hungry for peace: exploring the links between conflict and hunger in South Sudan</a></strong> - it provides recommendations for the international community and warring parties on what they can do to stop the violence, increase access to humanitarian aid and allow the people of South Sudan to recover.</li></ul></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>After harvests fail and thousands flee homes, famine looms again in South Sudan</h2></div> Mon, 05 Mar 2018 18:25:39 +0000 Tim Bierley 81426 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-03-05-after-harvests-fail-and-thousands-flee-homes-famine-looms-again-south-sudan#comments South Sudan's Independence Day should have been a celebration http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-07-19-south-sudan-independence-day-should-have-been-celebration <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Sunday, July 9 was Independence Day in South Sudan.</strong> A day that should have seen celebrations, festivities, smiles and laughter to mark six years of the world’s newest country.&nbsp; But not this year. Nor any year since the country’s conflict started in December 2013. It’s a time of somber reflection.&nbsp;</p><p>South Sudan has spent the last half of its short life in conflict.<strong> The fighting has caused hunger so catastrophic that in February, the world’s first famine in six years – South Sudan’s lifespan - was declared.</strong></p><p><strong>I just got back from Padding</strong>, northern Jonglei close to the Ethiopian border – a village in the ‘back of the back of beyond’ as one colleague told me. The village is so remote and inaccessible that food is dropped from planes and distributed by Oxfam staff on the ground to people in need. The last food drop was six months ago. This time the United Nations World Food Programme were delivering sorghum, beans, oil and fortified flour.</p><p><img alt="Air food drop in South Sudan. Photo: Albert Gonzales/Oxfam" title="Air food drop in South Sudan. Photo: Albert Gonzales/Oxfam" height="600" width="900" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="2" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/20170703-emergencyresponsep.jpg" /><em>Air food drop in northern Jonglei, South Sudan. Photo: Albert Gonzales/Oxfam</em></p><p>I met people who had come from Padding and around – people who had fled from fighting. I saw that people don’t care that the country is six years old – they only care whether their children will see six years of life, or if their struggle to feed their families will see them slide into starvation.</p><p><strong>Padding routinely gets cut off from everywhere.</strong> It’s in the middle of a swamp that becomes wet and impassable during the rainy season. It takes a day to walk to Lankien, the nearest town and the nearest functioning market. But this market is under pressure. Sorghum – a staple, used to make "walwal", a thick paste – has jumped in price from 700 South Sudanese Pounds (SSP) ($5.60) in April 2017, to 13,000 SSP today. It is too much for people to afford even a handful.</p><p>Before March 2017 – when the brutal conflict between government and opposition forces hit this part of the country – 9000 people were living in Padding village. Life was not bad. There were gardens that people cultivated, people had cattle. Now things are different.</p><p><img alt="Photo: Oxfam" title="Photo: Oxfam" height="600" width="900" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/south_sudan_padding_main.jpg" /><em>Nyarek Kuajien spends her days in Pangob&nbsp;trying to cultivate a small patch of garden and collecting the leaves of trees and grass that grow during the rainy season. Photo:&nbsp;<span>Albert Gonzales/Oxfam</span></em></p><p><strong>Padding has nearly doubled in size with people who have fled</strong> from fighting. Nyarek Kuajien*, a mother who had fled with her nine children from Khorfulus, near Malakal, about 160km away, told me: “We saw the fighters coming and when they came we ran. We ran with nothing, absolutely nothing. We came to Pangob [a village near Padding] and told the village chief that we had run from fighting. He gave us some land to settle on.”</p><p>Now Nyarek spends her days trying to cultivate a small patch of garden and collecting the leaves of trees and grass that grow during the rainy season. She knows that some of the things she gathers make her children ill. “It can’t be good – but I just do whatever I can to keep life going. I get water from the swamp. When I was at home I had everything.”</p><p><strong>Nyarek desperately wants water and food.</strong> She wants soap to clean clothes, even bed sheets to lie on – she wants the things that she had before the conflict started. Six years of independence means nothing to her. The last few years have taken more than they’ve given.</p><p>Until the South Sudanese have peace there will be nothing to celebrate. The governments of neighboring countries and the wider international community must increase political pressure to stop this violent conflict. Oxfam will continue to work in the most difficult places – places where they have never seen such dire need. But aid alone won’t solve the problem.</p><p>Nyarek told me about her village and about returning there.</p><p>“I am not willing to go back,” she said. “People are no longer there. I don’t want to be alone.” The people of South Sudan must not be left alone.</p><p>Nyarek and her countrymen and women need the same international solidarity shown when the country was ushered into being. And they need it now more than ever before.</p><p><em>Following the power crisis that erupted in Juba in 2013, South Sudan has spiraled into a national, political and ethnic conflict, quickly spreading across many parts of the country and leading to the death of thousands of women, children and men.</em><br><br><em>Since then, 3.8 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to the brutal war. 7.5 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance. Over 45 per cent of the population - more than 5.5 million people - are severely hungry. Oxfam is racing to get food, water and hygiene items to the most vulnerable people, including thousands who have fled to remote islands in the middle of huge swamps. In 2016 we reached over 600,000 with emergency and longer-term support. We are also responding to the refugee crisis regionally in Uganda, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad.</em></p><p></p><h3><strong>What you can do now</strong></h3><ul><li><strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/hunger-crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">Support Oxfam's work in South Sudan</a></strong></li><li><strong>Read more <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/search/node/south%20sudan">blogs on South Sudan</a></strong></li></ul><p><em>This entry posted by Christina Corbett, Oxfam Press Officer, South Sudan, on 18 July 2017. </em><br><br><em>*Name has been changed for confidentiality purposes</em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>South Sudan&#039;s Independence Day should have been a celebration</h2></div> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 14:09:38 +0000 Guest Blogger 81143 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-07-19-south-sudan-independence-day-should-have-been-celebration#comments This starvation in Africa is an affront to humanity http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-04-13-starvation-africa-affront-humanity <div class="field field-name-body"><p>We’re all shaken by the fact that our world stands on the brink of 4 famines. It is unprecedented in modern times. It should never have been allowed to happen. The UN says nearly 20 million people are at risk of starvation.<br><br>Nigel Timmins and I recently joined Oxfam staff and partners in northeast Nigeria, and South Sudan.</p><p>In Northeast Nigeria we visited people and the work we do in and around Maiduguri, and travelled to Gwoza and Pulka (towns that have been badly affected by the conflict, with much of Gwoza totally destroyed by Boko Haram; Pulka is still receiving people being displaced by the conflict for the first time). We spoke with parents who were receiving support, but did not have proper shelter or enough food for their children.</p><p><img height="853" width="1280" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/oxfam_nigeria_2017_tom_saater_-1981_0.jpg" alt="" /></p><p>We saw how communities have been forced to flee their homes, leaving everything behind as they seek safety, food, clean water and more amid the ongoing conflict between Boko Haram and the government.</p><p><img height="853" width="1280" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/oxfam_nigeria_2017_tom_saater_-3786.jpg" alt="" /></p><p><em>Oxfam rehabilitated two boreholes in Kushari, giving both local and displaced families access to safe and clean water.</em></p><p>In South Sudan we went to Malakal which used to be South Sudan’s second largest city, as well as the capital Juba.</p><p>In Malakal we saw widespread destruction. Homes, schools - almost every building was in ruin. We met&nbsp; women who risk being attacked when they leave the protected area to find food or firewood for their families.</p><p><img alt="Upper Nile University used to be one of the highest regarded universities in South Sudan. It is now reduced to rubble like much of the town. Photo: Bruno Bierrenbach Feder" title="Upper Nile University used to be one of the highest regarded universities in South Sudan. It is now reduced to rubble like much of the town. Photo: Bruno Bierrenbach Feder" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/malakal-univ-1240.jpg" /></p><p>As an African: it pains me to see this happening on our continent. I feel great sadness, but also anger and humiliation.</p><p>Thousands of people are thought to have died already. Many of them are young children.</p><p><strong>The cruelty of human-made crisis</strong></p><p>As Nigel said: “These are human-made crises. They’re not inevitable. There is no reason, and no excuse in today’s world, for a mother to sleep outdoors on the ground with her children, with little food or water and fearing for their lives. This should not happen."</p><p>Governments must act. We need an injection of aid, backed by diplomatic courage to tackle the causes of these crises. State, national and international political leadership is needed now to address the immediate crisis and bring an end to the conflict.</p><p>Oxfam is doing what we can - delivering on the front-lines to those in need and pushing decision makers to act. I met with Oxfam staff who are working to help raise women’s voices and who are scaling up our response to support families to earn their own incomes and to return to farming.</p><p>This is a journey Nigel and I wish we had never had to make – but we are so glad we were able to see this crisis first-hand and meet these brave people. We will do our utmost to continue sharing what we have seen, and push decision-makers to avert catastrophic loss of life.</p><p><img alt="Winnie embraces a woman from a women’s group in the Protection of Civilians center in Malakal, South Sudan. Photo: Bruno Bierrenbach Feder" title="Winnie embraces a woman from a women’s group in the Protection of Civilians center in Malakal, South Sudan. Photo: Bruno Bierrenbach Feder" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/winnie-hug-1200.jpg" /></p><p><strong>Cause for hope</strong></p><p>And we must tell you: in the midst of such suffering, we had cause for hope.</p><p>We saw communities sharing what little they have with others in greater need. Wespoke with strong women and young people who are stepping up as leaders in their communities. We were greeted with warmth and gratitude by people who have been through so much, and have so little.</p><p>Political leaders and the international community can still – and must – avert catastrophic loss of life. We need an immediate and sweeping response.</p><p>We must end this betrayal of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.</p><p><strong>How you can help: </strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/famine-and-hunger-crisis" rel="nofollow"><strong>Donate to Oxfam now</strong></a></p><hr><p><img alt="Winnie Byanyima meeting with leaders in Nigeria. Photo: Tom Saater/Oxfam" title="Winnie Byanyima meeting with leaders in Nigeria. Photo: Tom Saater/Oxfam" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/oxfam-nigeria-2017-tom-saater-1642-winnie-pleading-1240.jpg" /></p><p>In northeast Nigeria, Winnie, Nigel and the team visited Oxfam’s programs in and around Maidaguri. Oxfam is responding to the crisis there by providing access to food through distributions and cash for people to use in local markets, clean water and sanitation and helping people to keep themselves safe. During the visit, they met with senior State Government leadership, including the Deputy Governor, the Secretary to the State Government and the State Attorney General. They discussed key issues including the stark number of people at risk of starvation in the state, improving coordination between the humanitarian community and the state government, government funding and leadership in the response and secondary displacement.<a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/famine-and-hunger-crisis" rel="nofollow"></a></p><p><em>Photos 1, 2, 3, 6: Credit Tom Saater/Oxfam</em></p><p><em>Photos 4, 5: Credit Bruno Bierrenbach Feder/Oxfam</em></p><p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>This starvation in Africa is an affront to humanity</h2></div> Thu, 13 Apr 2017 15:18:23 +0000 Winnie Byanyima 81018 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-04-13-starvation-africa-affront-humanity#comments Why is there famine in South Sudan and what can be done http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-02-22-why-there-famine-south-sudan-and-what-can-be-done <div class="field field-name-body"><p>Famine in South Sudan has left 100,000 people on the verge of starvation and almost 5 million people, more than 40% of the country's population, in need of urgent help.</p> <p>Famine is a technical term and the formal declaration of famine in South Sudan means people there have already started dying of hunger.<br /></p><h3>Why is there famine in South Sudan?</h3> <p>The compounding effects of the conflict in South Sudan means that trade routes have been disrupted and the food security situation has been getting worse year on year, so that we are now seeing parts of the country declared to be in a state of famine.</p> <p>The IPC readings  show that communities in some of the areas most affected by the conflict, are the worst hit as they are unable to produce their own food and humanitarian organisations are unable to reach them.</p> <p>This demonstrates the importance of all parties to the conflict to allow humanitarians to deliver aid to those who need it, in order to stop a worsening situation across the country.</p> <p> </p><h3>Humanitarian access is critical</h3> <p>In this day and age, we should not be seeing people dying simply because there is not enough to eat. We should all take a share of the responsibility – from the impacts of climate change, to our inability to bring an end to the conflict in South Sudan, this has all led us to this point.</p> <p>It is now imperative that all parties to the conflict allow humanitarian organisations to access those communities most in need, wherever they are in the country, and also to support longer terms solutions for peace and sustainable livelihoods.</p> <p>We also need the international community to open its eyes to the suffering here in South Sudan and ensure that humanitarian as well as longer term responses are adequately funded and pressure is applied from all angles to bring this conflict to an end.</p> <iframe width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-kUpD7LAJaw?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe><p> </p><h3>Oxfam is there</h3> <p>Just last week I was in Ganyiel, an area in Panijar county, one of the states that people fear will be next to fall to deadly famine. Our teams there travel for hours by canoe to access communities cut off from the world. People on these islands have fled unimaginable violence, and now are left hungry and at risk of deadly diseases such a cholera.</p> <p>We know that where there are high levels of food insecurity, but also the presence of humanitarian actors, a famine can be averted.</p> <p>Oxfam is working with others in South Sudan to reach the most vulnerable. With partners including the World Food Programme, we aim to address acute and chronic food insecurity. We aim to make sure that the most vulnerable people have enough nutritious food while also working with them to build and strengthen their livelihoods.</p> <p><strong>Some of the ways Oxfam is helping are:</strong></p> <ul><li>Providing people with food directly through distributions</li> <li>Providing access to clean water for cooking and drinking</li> <li>Helping people to buy livestock and produce their own food for daily family consumption</li> <li>Supporting people to set up small businesses, and providing training, tools and inputs for agriculture and fish farming.</li> </ul><p>Where possible, we aim to source inputs through local traders, and work closely with them to build up viable markets to strengthen the local economy.</p> <p> </p><h3>Will other areas of South Sudan slip into famine?</h3> <p>lt is expected that 47% of South Sudan’s population will be in an emergency food shortage by July. The magnitude of this is unprecedented in the short history of the country.</p> <p>If food prices continue to rise, access to land and farming supplies continues to be impeded, and humanitarian access remains limited, then food insecurity can only be expected to deteriorate further. The result would be wider spread famine.<br /></p><h3>What needs to happen now?</h3> <p>This is a man-made tragedy, and we are running out of time to avoid it getting worse. In over 30 years working in the affected areas, Oxfam has never witnessed such dire need. The safe passage of humanitarian aid and humanitarian workers, delivering assistance and saving lives is imperative so that those who most need food and clean water can access it at this critical time.<br /><br />Operating in a complex conflict environment like South Sudan means that communities are often out of reach for a variety of reasons, including arbitrary actions and bureaucratic impediments by state and non-state actors. However, too often we are unable to access communities because of heavy fighting. We therefore call on all parties to the conflict to ensure humanitarian organizations can reach those most in need safely.<br /><br /><em>Oxfam has been assisting populations in South Sudan since the 1980’s providing food security and water, sanitation and hygiene assistance. In the past year alone, Oxfam has helped over 600,000 people across the country with food and water distributions and longer-term aid.</em><br /><br /><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-south-sudan"><strong>Donate now</strong></a></p> <p><em>This entry posted by Dorothy Sang (<a href="https://twitter.com/DorothySang">@DorothySang</a>), Oxfam Humanitarian Campaigns Manager, South Sudan, on 22 February 2017.</em><br /><br /><em>Photo: Martha Nyandit waits for an Oxfam/WFP food delivery, Mingkaman camp, South Sudan. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam, April 2014</em><strong><br /></strong></p> </div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Why is there famine in South Sudan and what can be done</h2></div> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 18:40:14 +0000 Guest Blogger 80946 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-02-22-why-there-famine-south-sudan-and-what-can-be-done#comments