South Sudan Crisis: Families Seek Shelter, Aid

©EU/ECHO/ Ludovico Gammarelli

The recent eruption of conflict in South Sudan has driven an estimated 194,000 people from their homes in just a few weeks, including 57,500 seeking refuge at United Nations (UN) bases.

About 107,000 people – both inside and outside UN bases – have been reached with some aid, according to a January 1 UN report. Awerial County is home to what is believed to be the largest number of displaced people, with 76,000 identified so far. Families remain in need of food, clean water, vaccines, and healthcare.

Meanwhile, a ceasefire has been agreed to on principle, but fighting continued January 1. South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the former vice president, have agreed to peace talks, according to news reports.

Violence broke out December 15 in the capital of Juba and within days spread to other states across the young nation. InterAction was among those calling for a cessation of hostilities, and urged the U.S. to impress upon the conflicting parties the necessity of stopping attacks against civilians.

Reports of gross human rights abuses – often on ethnic grounds – have emerged from the country, which seceded from Sudan in 2011. The UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on December 31 voiced grave concerns about the “mounting evidence” of human rights abuses. UNMISS warned in a statement that the targeting of citizens on ethnic grounds “can lead to a perpetual cycle of violence that can destroy the fabric of the new nation.”

More than two dozen InterAction members work in South Sudan.