A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Today, the people of South Sudan expected a political agreement that would deliver a transitional government to steer them out of conflict and bring an end to the violence that has engulfed the country for eight months. Instead, the leaders of South Sudan have failed to set aside their differences, and fighting continues to ravage the country as a famine looms.
Sixty days ago, both parties to the conflict made a promise to their people that they would bring an end to the fighting and agreed to establish a transitional government of national unity during Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-brokered mediation talks. But on the eve of the date set to deliver this promise, talks faltered yet again, rendering this commitment seemingly impossible to achieve.
“This humanitarian crisis is nothing short of a man-made disaster. This conflict must end now – there is no military solution to be won. The only real solutions to prevent further deterioration are a genuine commitment to peace and an immediate and lasting ceasefire. Communities trapped by fighting and in hard to reach areas must be able to safely access life saving assistance, and there must be zero tolerance on obstacles to aid by all parties. A willingness to compromise is needed on both sides to reach a swift political solution,” said Oxfam’s South Sudan Country Director Tariq Riebl.
“As aid workers we will strive to meet the rising needs of the people, but that is not addressing the root causes of the crisis. This has to happen at the negotiation tables in Addis Ababa. There is no end to the humanitarian crisis without an end to the fighting.”
Today, South Sudan is the world's worst food crisis
Since December, more than 1.5 million people have been displaced, including over 400,000 who have fled the country seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. Within South Sudan, 4 million are facing alarming levels of hunger with South Sudan experiencing the world’s worst food crisis as humanitarian agencies gear up to the challenge of delivering the biggest aid operation across the globe. The impact of this conflict – and the complete inability of both parties to bring it to an end – has been catastrophic for the people of South Sudan.
“There is an urgent need for the international community to show a united front and use all their diplomatic influence to ensure both parties engage meaningfully in the talks and listen to the diversity of voices in South Sudan. This week we have also seen the tragic and unacceptable development of humanitarian workers becoming victims in this conflict because of their ethnicity. This political impasse can’t go on any longer – the people of South Sudan have suffered too much,” Riebl said.
Vanessa Parra, Oxfam, Washington, DC, +1 (202) 496-1196 (office), +1 (202) 476-0093 (mobile), vparra@OxfamAmerica.org Twitter: @ParraV