JUBA, South Sudan—(August 11, 2014)--The South Sudan government and the opposition have failed to reach a peace agreement by the August 10 deadline, which means an already severe man-made food crisis could reach catastrophic levels, warns humanitarian organization CARE.
As part of the ceasefire agreement signed in early May between the government and opposition, both parties agreed to reach a comprehensive peace agreement and to form a transitional government by August 10, but failed to do so.
Meanwhile, the Integrated Phase Classification(IPC), which measures food insecurity phases and is the authority for declaring famine, is expected to release an updated report confirming that areas of South Sudan are in Phase 4 emergency crisis with levels of severe acute malnutrition increasing.
“The UN and NGOs have been warning for months that risk of famine is increasing, and according to the IPC, the areas of South Sudan at the greatest risk reside on the frontlines of the conflict, where humanitarian access is difficult due to insecurity,” said Aimee Ansari, CARE’s Country Director in South Sudan. “Famine has not been declared by the IPC, so there is still time to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, but the best solution is for all parties to permanently lay down their weapons.”
Since the conflict began in December 2013, humanitarian actors have faced increasing security challenges in accessing effected populations with life-saving assistance, including targeted attacks on South Sudanese staff delivering aid. On August 4, several aid workers were killed and others are still missing in Maban County, Upper Nile State.
“These recent attacks on aid workers point to the levels of brutality that exist in this conflict, and failing to reach a peace agreement could mean further breakdown of law and order,” said Ansari.
Over the past eight months, over 1.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to fighting including over 400,000 people who are refugees in neighboring countries. Tens of thousands have been killed, and nearly 4 million people in South Sudan are suffering severe food crisis or emergency levels of hunger.
An internally displaced man assisted by CARE who fled violence from Malakal expressed, “The only way for our lives to improve is for us to be able to return home to our income-generating activities. And the only way we will be able to do that is for there to be peace.”
“The disruption of people’s lives and livelihoods caused by this conflict, combined with the disruption of normal markets and food distribution systems, has left much of the population in extremely vulnerable conditions,” said Ansari. “Without peace, people are too uncertain about the future to even plant crops. Many will continue to starve and senseless deaths will continue to occur. CARE calls on all parties to genuinely commit to an inclusive peace process in order to reverse a rapidly deteriorating situation.”
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About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. CARE has been operating in Southern Sudan since 1993, initially providing humanitarian relief to internally displaced people in Western Equatoria. The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 allowed CARE to expand into Jonglei and Upper Nile States to support returnees from the refugee camps, and the organization has since broadened its operations to include development programs.