South Sudan – the world’s newest nation – is in the grip of a deepening humanitarian crisis with millions of people facing severe hunger caused by civil unrest and drought, but the world seems to have forgotten about their suffering.
Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed and seven million people are in dire need of emergency aid including food, water and basic medicines.
Ongoing fighting and surges of violence in new areas have forced four million people to flee their homes and crops to neighbouring countries or the bush.
The brutal, unrelenting civil war is now in its fifth year. Our Church partners on the ground tell us that families are “living in constant fear and insecurity, suffering mentally, physically and are starving. This dehumanising situation is now resulting in trauma and mental disorders.”
The South Sudan Catholic Bishops fear South Sudan is becoming a forgotten crisis and the international community has turned away despite the humanitarian situation set to worsen in the coming months with heavy rains adding to the already untold suffering.
Despite the Church’s call to all parties, factions and individuals to stop the killing, raping, looting, displacement and attacks on churches, but they refuse. We support the Bishops’ call for face to face meetings with the President, Vice-President, military, politicians and opposition from all sides and their demand to see action, not just dialogue for dialogue’s sake.
The world cannot ignore what is going on in South Sudan.
The Catholic Church is doing everything it can to highlight the injustices and suffering. The decision by Pope Francis to open a Vatican Embassy in South Sudan demonstrates that commitment. It has been hailed by the Catholic Church in Sudan and South Sudan, and its people, as a move which “cools the hearts of downtrodden war victims in these nations” and symbolises the honest, friendly ties between South Sudan and the Holy See.
SCIAF has been working in the country for many years and despite major challenges. Working with Church partners on the ground we’re able to reach people in desperate need – thanks to donations from Scotland.
Together, we help thousands of families get emergency food, medicine and shelter. We also promote peace and reconciliation, and provide care for women affected by domestic violence.
We also support people with disabilities such as polio, landmine injuries and River Blindness with wheelchairs, walking canes, and support so they can live an active life in their community by going to school, growing food or starting up small businesses.
In February last year, the United Nations officially declared a famine in South Sudan in what it described as a man-made catastrophe caused by civil war and economic collapse. A year on and again the UN has warned that some parts of South Sudan are facing a new famine and has warned that the number of people affected will rise if something isn’t done quickly.
In response to this growing humanitarian crisis, £100,000 of Scottish money is being sent to our partners in South Sudan to provide emergency aid to even more vulnerable people caught up in the conflict.
£30,000 has gone to Caritas South Sudan’s Emergency Appeal which is giving food, shelter, healthcare, clean water, sanitation and emergency supplies to 14,000 people.
A further £30,000 is going to the Comboni Missionaries to help them provide emergency food supplies to 2,100 people, including those displaced by fighting, people with disabilities, the elderly, and women and children in three of the worst conflict-hit areas.
The remaining £40,000 will go to our other partners on the ground providing similar support.
We make sure that money from Scotland goes to the poorest people who need it most so please keep your donations coming in so we can help even more people in crisis.
We are urgently looking at what more we can do to help and I would urge everyone to please keep the long-suffering people in South Sudan in your thoughts, and prayers for peace.
To support our work in emergencies around the world, please donate to SCIAF’s Emergency Response Fund www.sciaf.org.uk/emergency or call SCIAF on 0141 354 5555.
Alistair Dutton, Director, SCIAF