Oxfam is calling on the country’s leaders to end the violence and for the international community to help ensure peace.
Update, July 21, 2016 : Oxfam joins the call on UN Security Council to impose an immediate arms embargo.
Two days before South Sudan was due to celebrate its 5th anniversary of independence, a new wave of fighting broke out in Juba, the country’s capital. Though a ceasefire has now been declared, the renewed violence has already left many people dead and forced thousands of others to flee from their homes.
“This was meant to be South Sudan’s fifth birthday. I cannot think of a more horrendous gift,” said Zlatko Gegic, Oxfam’s country director in South Sudan. “More fighting, loss of lives, more displacement and less hope.”
Conflict has wracked the country since a political power struggle erupted in December 2013 between President Salva Kiir and then former Vice president Riek Machar. Its escalation pushed South Sudan into a civil war that has taken on ethnic dimensions. Despite the signing of a peace agreement in August, 2015, insecurity has persisted and spread to previously calm regions of the country. Since the beginning of the conflict, tens of thousands of people have died and more than 2.3 million have been displaced.
Despite the new surge in violence, Oxfam has been able to continue to deliver much needed humanitarian assistance outside the capital. A recently released report on the status of food security in the country indicates that 4.3 million are facing serious food shortages and malnutrition—a situation that could become even worse because of the new waves of violence.
But the announcement of a ceasefire has brought a measure of cautious hope, said Gegic.
“We have all been down this path before and we sincerely hope that this ceasefire is an overture to long-lasting peace,” he said. “The people South Sudan have suffered enormously and desperately need stability in order to rebuild their lives.”
In a recent project in anticipation of the country’s 5th anniversary, photographer Robert Fogarty documented that call for peace and stability. Produced for Oxfam in partnership with Dear World, a video about the photo project amplifies people’s longing for peace—making it urgent for all of us.
Oxfam is calling on South Sudan’s leaders to end the fighting now and for the international community to step up and ensure peace.
As long as the fighting continues, the humanitarian situation in South Sudan will only get worse. Tell President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and National Security Advisor Rice: Push for a comprehensive arms embargo on South Sudan.