KILLINGS, rape, and the razing of houses to the ground are
devastating the northern region of South Sudan, as aid agencies
withdraw and the UN struggles to secure access.
Eyewitnesses report the targeted rape and killing of civilians,
including children. About 100,000 people taking refuge in UN camps
at Malakal, Upper Nile State, and Bentiu, Unity State, are now cut
off, a spokesman for UNICEF, Jonathan Veitch, said on Tuesday.
"Survivors reported to UNICEF that whole villages were burned to
the ground by armed groups while large numbers of girls and women
were taken outside to be raped and killed, including children as
young as seven," Mr Veitch said. "I don't know why people would do
that to children; it's absolutely staggering that it's taking
He said that aid workers were unable to leave the camps. More
than 650,000 civilians have been left without outside aid.
Since late April, 151 staff members from 22 organisations have
been relocated from southern Unity State because of the
World Vision announced last week that it was suspending
operations in Unity indefinitely. It estimates that more than
10,000 children under the age of five in Unity face
Christian Aid, which supports projects in the state, estimates
that up to 100,000 people had to flee their homes in the ten days
to 12 May. Its emergency programme officer, Rosie Crowther, warned
that the fighting was preventing people from growing crops during
the peak of the country's planting season.
"We are working in some of the worst-affected areas to meet
immediate food needs, provide safe drinking water, and promote safe
hygiene and sanitation practices to help prevent the spread of
disease," she said.
The latest UN humanitarian bulletin warns that South Sudan is
gripped by a "major public-health crisis". Outbreaks of cholera are
expected, alongside acute respiratory infections, malaria,
malnutrition, and measles.
Two million people have been displaced by the conflict, which
broke out in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused Riek
Machar, his former deputy, of attempting to stage a coup (
News, 20 December 2013).
Government and opposition forces have both been held responsible
by the UN Security Council for violating the Cessation of Hostilies
Agreement signed in January last year. Sanctions are
Anglican agencies are supporting the humanitarian effort through
the Sudanese Development and Relief Agency, an arm of the Episcopal
Church of South Sudan & Sudan. Its general manager, the Revd
Joseph El-hag Abe Natana, told the Episcopal News Service last week
that aid, political lobbying, and prayers were seen "as God's care,
support, and intervention".