Photos: Marking an independence day with crisis, not celebration

By Oxfam
Internally displaced people line up inside a camp at the UN House in Juba, South Sudan. Oxfam, alongside other agencies, is distributing food and charcoal vouchers for over 13,000 people across a two week period. Photo: Kieran Doherty / Oxfam

A food crisis triggered by conflict has left a third of South Sudan's people at risk of severe hunger.

On July 9, South Sudan marks the third anniversary of its independence. In 2011, the birth of the world’s newest nation was a cause for great celebration—and hope that the fighting would at last be over. But now, three years later, new waves of conflict that started in December have pushed 1.5 million people from their homes, forcing many of them into nightmarish living conditions, while the threat of severe hunger hovers for millions.

Misery is the mark of this year’s anniversary. Seasonal rains have arrived and at a compound run by the UN Mission in Malakal, where an estimated 19,000 people fled for safety, mud mires everything.

“People are angry—and rightly so,” says Oxfam’s Aimee Brown, a regional media and communications advisor who waded through the compound to take the photos she shared on Instagram below. “It will take years to undo the damage that has been done in the past six months.”

Ramshackle shelters built with tarps and string provide no protection against the heavy rains which started six weeks ago in Malakal.

A young girl carries her infant sister through the muck to get from their shelter to the main road. People living in these conditions say that skin and respiratory diseases are a common problem.

Even the main market inside the UN base in Malakal is waterlogged. Women sell herbs and vegetables next to a stagnant pool of water. Mosquitoes breed in huge number in these swampy areas, increasing the risk of malaria and other insect-borne diseases.

Wading through muddy water is an everyday necessity inside the UN camp in Malakal where most of the streets have been flooded for weeks, increasing the risk of disease.

Those who are lucky have plastic boots to wade through the filth inside the UN camp in Malakal. Others must roll up their trousers or hold up their skirts and tread barefoot through the muck to go about their daily tasks.

Oxfam has helped more than 260,000 people in South Sudan with food, clean water, sanitation, and cash distributions. In Ethiopia, we are helping to set up water and sanitation services in refugee camps, and in Uganda, we have reached 45,000 people.

As South Sudan’s families hang on to the hope of a better future, you have the power to help now.

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