South Sudan violence leaves many homeless, without food or water
It’s looking calm so far this week, but most people remain afraid after a fresh wave of violence swept through Juba earlier this month, said Deepmala Mahla, Mercy Corps’ country director in South Sudan.
Most people expect that the cease-fire, which began July 18, will not hold for long, Mahla said.
According to news reports, violent clashes have killed more than 300 people since July 8, just one day before the country’s five-year anniversary of independence. While the cease-fire has stopped the onslaught of violence for now, many Juba residents are struggling to move forward after having their homes looted or destroyed.
“I’ve heard people say it looks quiet, but it’s not quiet,” Mahla said, referring to the lack of confidence local residents have in the cease-fire.
South Sudan’s violent history
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011, but political infighting has plagued the country since December 2013.
That violence has forced more than 2.3 million citizens to flee their homes in search of safety. As conflict continues, many families are unable to plant seeds or harvest crops for food. Markets run out of food or are often closed because of fighting. As a result, more than 6 million people across the country do not have enough to eat.
The recent violence adds to the hunger crisis. Mahla said that a few restaurants and markets have opened, but they don’t carry much fresh food and close early so workers can hurry home to safety before the end of the day.
In the meantime, the price of food has skyrocketed and the value of the South Sudan currency has dropped, making it more difficult than ever to get a meal.
Those who lost their homes are sleeping outside. South Sudan’s rainy season, which is now, is creating a breeding ground for mosquitos and cholera.
Mercy Corps responding to Juba violence
Once the violence subsided, Mercy Corps responded by providing food, mosquito nets and jerrycans, which are used to hold and transport water, to about 100 households. For the next 45 days, the team in Juba will help with shelter, more mosquito nets, some water and sanitation work and child protection.
None of the Mercy Corps programming in other parts of the country, particularly in the internal displacement camps, was affected by the violence in Juba. But the recent violence shows that families in South Sudan need us now more than ever.