The Devastation of War
On the night of December 15, 2013, shots rang out in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. What started as a political rivalry between President Salva Kiir and his former vice President Riek Machar had reached its boiling point. Forces loyal to Machar broke away from the military and fighting quickly spread throughout Juba and then into other areas of South Sudan.
One year later, the devastation caused by South Sudan’s civil war is stark. Nearly two million people were driven from their homes by conflict this year. Conservative estimates put the death toll at 10,000. The war also prevented people from planting before the rainy season, leaving no crops to harvest and plunging the country into what is now considered to be the worst food crisis in the world. As of September, 5.8 million people were food insecure. This number is expected to rise to 6.4 million in the first three months of 2015. Some 235,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition—the gravest form of malnutrition that is life-threatening without treatment.
Peace talks led by the Intergovernmental Authority of Development in East Africa have so far failed to resolve the conflict and fighting still continues in much of the country. With the rainy season coming to an end, fighting could intensify as dry ground makes it easier to travel within the country. With no ceasefire and peace agreement in sight, the humanitarian community estimates that $1.8 billion is needed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable South Sudanese next year.
One year later, the devastation caused by South Sudan’s civil war is stark. Nearly two million people were driven from their homes by conflict this year.
Concern in South Sudan
Concern Worldwide has been implementing emergency and early recovery programs in South Sudan since 1994. Our teams are responding to the emergency in Central Equatoria and Unity States in addition to its on-going health, nutrition, and livelihoods programs in Northern Bahr el Ghazal.
When the conflict erupted in December 2013, Concern stayed in-country and immediately scaled up to meet the needs of the displaced, first in Juba and then in Bentiu, the capital of oil-producing Unity State, where some of the fiercest fighting continues.
In Bentiu, our team is working on a UN base where some 50,000 people are seeking refuge from fighting. Situated on land that was never intended to house people, the camp became heavily flooded during the rainy season, collapsing latrines and forcing people to live knee and sometimes even waist-deep in sewage. As conflict continues around the base, people little choice but to stay in the camp for fear they would be killed if they left.
Concern has worked on the base since February and is delivering clean water and sanitation, treating malnourished children, and distributing emergency shelter supplies. After heavy flooding destroyed the latrines in the camp and left little dry space to build new latrines, our teams launched an interim measure using “PeePoo” bags, which are self-sanitizing and fully biodegradable, to improve sanitation. We have also been doing whatever we can to reduce flooding in the camp such as helping to dig a drainage canal and help raise the shelters of the very vulnerable. During dry season, our teams are planning to build more robust shelters and take other measures to prevent severe flooding when the rains return.
Situated on land that was never intended to house people, the camp became heavily flooded during the rainy season, collapsing latrines and forcing people to live knee and sometimes even waist-deep in sewage.
In Juba, which has regained relative stability in recent months, Concern is distributing food items each month to more than 15,000 people living on a UN base on the outskirts of Juba. We are also treating moderately and severely malnourished children living in the camps on the UN base. Outside of South Sudan, our teams are also delivering assistance to those who have fled to refugee camps in Ethiopia and Uganda.