Monday, 25 May 2015

Humanitarian nightmare as South Sudan armed conflict escalates.

Alarming levels of human rights abuse and dire humanitarian situations are being witnessed in South Sudan, as fighting intensifies in the Africa’s youngest nation, humanitarian body, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said over the weekend.

South Sudan’s ongoing conflict began in December 2013 and has been marked by brutal violence against civilians and deepening suffering across the country with some 119,000 people being sheltered in United Nations compounds.

The UN estimates that the number of people in need in 2015 will include an anticipated 1.95 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and a projected 293,000 refugees.

MSF said the situation had worsened and hampered the delivery of food and medical aid to hundreds of victims in camps, and asked soldiers involved in the conflict to respect civilian rights.

“People in these areas have no access to medical facilities since the warlords are also destroying medical institutions. Escalation of the conflict has left people exposed to violence. Expectant mothers, women and children have been greatly affected,” Paul Critchley, MSF’s head of mission in South Sudan, said.

Critchley said planes carrying medical supplies could nolonger access the affected areas due to the intense fighting, and that many civilians were at risk of contracting diseases especially malaria and other diarrhoea-related ailments.

Deputy operations manager Johanna Von Peteghem said the civilian population was scattered and many had fled into forests where they could not access medical care.

“People are fighting using all sorts of weapons…pangas, grenades, guns. The warlords are merciless. One boy about 9 years was resting in a ‘Protection of Civilians’ area but he was still shot,” said Johanna.

Currently 30,000 people are living in the ‘Protection of Civilians’ sites where there has been an influx in new arrivals, MSF, says.

Most affected states include Unity, Jonglei and Upper Nile where there has been an upsurge of violence leading to suspension of medical services, destruction of health services and evacuation of medical staff.

Approximately 200,000 people in the Unity state have no access to medical care, says MSF.