The guardians of South Sudan

By Oxfam

Acts of kindness and bravery offer hope in a country where conflict has helped to trigger a severe food crisis.

In the wake of fighting that broke out in South Sudan a year ago, a severe food crisis has gripped the country. If the conflict continues, 2.5 million people will be at risk of hunger—a reality made more painful in light of the hope so many of its citizens had when this new nation declared independence just three years ago.
But even as the fighting threatens to escalate, that hope continues to shine in the acts of humanity—big and small—the South Sudanese quietly share among each other.

“They say tough times never last,” says Pastor Thomas, the priest at Kator Church in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. “Tough people do live.” At the height of the conflict, the priest provided safety and sanctuary for people. And he’s not alone.

Photo: Andrea Campeanu/Oxfam

In the stories presented above, you’ll hear how decisions, made in the moment, can have life-saving results.

“Labor knows no war,” says Akul Shulteng, a traditional birth attendant who stayed at a hospital in Melut to help deliver babies when no one else could.

“Everyone ran away,” she recalls. “I remained in the hospital with the midwife. We stayed because what we were doing was important.” And that night, after the midwife left, too, Shulteng was on her own, tending to mothers who were in labor and other patients.

Photo: Andrea Campeanu/Oxfam

But as citizens step up to help each other, the risks around them are growing.

“The situation in South Sudan is on a knife-edge,” says Zlatko Gegic, Oxfam’s country director there.’ The relative peace of the rainy season is over and fighting could escalate at any time, forcing tens of thousands of people to leave their homes for their own safety. Harvesting and transporting of food will become impossible and millions of people will go hungry. We have to act now to avert it.”

In the last year, Oxfam has helped more than 360,000 people, including providing clean water and sanitation services to 79,000 of them and food to more than 90,000.

“Aid has made the difference between life and death for many South Sudanese people,” Gegic says. But donors need to continue funding programs and to put pressure on the combatants to let aid workers reach the areas that have been hit the hardest, he adds.

Since the fighting started Dec. 15, 2103, 1.9 million people have been forced from their homes, including 479,000 who have fled to neighboring countries.

Photo: Andrea Campeanu/Oxfam

Although 2014 was marked by many crises, the support of people like you is giving families in South Sudan and around the world the resources they need to weather difficult times and build resilience for the future. Be part of lasting change: make a tax-deductible year-end gift today.

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