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.
New bombing raids and a build up of troops along the border of Sudan and South Sudan over the past few days threaten to escalate what is already a significant humanitarian crisis in the newest country in the world.
Almost six months of conflict along the border is affecting 1.4 million people, but this new escalation threatens to force more people from their homes and cause yet more devastation for ordinary people, Oxfam said.
Oxfam is significantly reducing its response and relocating staff from two locations in Upper Nile state in South Sudan, where it has been providing clean water and sanitation for 64,000 people.
Oxfam staff there reported bombing and heavy artillery for several hours on Friday. They have witnessed planes flying overhead and a build-up of South Sudanese troops over the past few days. Bombings were reported earlier this week in New Qaffa in Upper Nile, in addition to the reported airstrike on Yida refugee camp in Unity state on Thursday.
Oxfam called on the parties to cease hostilities, protect civilians and ensure safe humanitarian access to help people affected by the violence.
Aid to refugees affected by the ongoing violence in Blue Nile state in Sudan will also be affected by the evacuation. Oxfam teams were about to start an assessment in Upper Nile to provide aid to new refugees. Over 50,000 people have fled Blue Nile since violence erupted there in August.
“Thousands of refugees are still coming across the border from Blue Nile. They have fled attacks and walked for days to reach a place they thought would be safe – but instead they are now facing more violence. In desperate need of food, water and shelter, the refugees now receive virtually nothing when they arrive,” said Sanjay Awasthi, head of Oxfam in South Sudan.
Twenty-two Oxfam staff, mainly engineers and health workers, are relocating from Jamam and Renk in Upper Nile, near the border, where Oxfam is one of the only agencies providing clean water to displaced people and refugees.
Notes to editors
Alun McDonald, Media and Communications Officer, Horn East & Central Africa
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