Sudan: Violence hurting aid efforts in the South
|Publisher||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)|
|Publication Date||16 June 2009|
|Cite as||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Sudan: Violence hurting aid efforts in the South, 16 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a3b589fc.html [accessed 23 May 2015]|
JUBA, 16 June 2009 (IRIN) - Escalating violence in Southern Sudan is putting tens of thousands of vulnerable people at risk of being cut off from help, aid workers warned.
"We have seen an increase in inter-[communal] fighting in Southern Sudan in recent months," Kenro Oshidari, country director for the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said on 15 June. "This could derail recovery and rebuilding efforts that we are supporting."
On 12 June, armed Jikany Nuer men attacked a flotilla of 31 boats, including 27 carrying grain and other supplies for WFP, outside Nassir town in Upper Nile State.
The attack cut supplies to more than 19,000 displaced people. Upper Nile State information minister Thom Mom said about 40 people died in the fighting. "The situation is calm now," he said on 16 June. "The issue is being dealt with," he added, without giving further details.
The medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said it was deeply concerned about the situation. "We have treated 33 wounded in our hospital in Nassir, mostly for gunshot wounds," said Colette Gadenne, MSF-Holland head of mission in Southern Sudan.
In May, clashes broke out between factions of the Lou Nuer and Jikany ethnic groups, in which at least 66 people were killed, according to local officials.
According to MSF, it doctors have since March treated 172 wounded in fighting in Jonglei and Upper Nile states.
"That violence forced many people to move," Gadenne said. "We consider the situation now to be very severe, because [every]where the violence happened there is a shortage of food, and the areas are very difficult to reach for humanitarian aid."
Sixteen boats made it back to Nassir after the attack, but all the food had been looted, and at least four boats were reported to have been sunk, according to UN sources.
The boats were carrying more than 700T of supplies to Akobo on the Sobat river, the only transport route available during the rainy season, when roads are flooded.
WFP said the attack was a "massive blow" to food distributions, which had forced it to resort to costly airlifts to deliver some supplies. The Buffalo planes can, however, only deliver 5T on each trip against a requirement of hundreds of tonnes.
"The worrying development for WFP in 2009 is the marked increase in... conflict that has led to insecure roads, more displaced populations and less agricultural activity," said Michelle Iseminger, head of WFP in Southern Sudan.
In May, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and head of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), Ashraf Qazi, warned that death rates in the South had outnumbered those in the war-torn western region of Darfur.
In a 14 June statement, UNMIS repeated its concerns about further outbreaks of violence in the South. It urged the Southern government to "work without delay with the local communities to put an end to ongoing violence and achieve speedy sustainable reconciliation".
Ethnic clashes are common in Southern Sudan, some sparked by cattle rustling and disputes over natural resources. The escalation in violence, which is being blamed by Southern politicians on their former Northern enemies, has put enormous strain on the 2005 peace deal.
Distrust remains high between the two sides - still divided by ideological, cultural and religious differences that caused the war. Analysts say the possibility of renewed warfare is real.
Last month, Southern President Salva Kiir warned that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was under threat. "The CPA, [which] we concluded as a result of our enormous sacrifices, is seriously threatened by enemies of peace from within our realm and without," he said.
Meanwhile, a new report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) stated that conditions for the estimated two million Southern Sudanese who have returned since the war ended remain dire.
Most returnees cannot access basic services and facilities, such as clean water, healthcare and education, the IOM said.