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Concern Worlwide’s team in South Sudan is closely monitoring the humanitarian situation after recent violence in many parts of the country. Our head office is in Juba, where there has been heavy fighting.
South Sudan and Ethiopia
We have escalated our aid response in South Sudan to cope with the daily influx of 1,000 refugees fleeing conflict into neighbouring Ethiopia. The refugees, who are mainly women and children, are reported to be suffering from high rates of malnutrition and are in need of urgent assistance.
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Since fighting erupted in mid-December, violence has swept across at least seven of the ten states of South Sudan with alarming speed.
More than 16,000 people have been caught in a reign of terror as the battle for South Sudan’s oil rich region of Unity State intensifies. Concern Worldwide’s emergency programme manager, Tom Dobbin, witnessed firsthand the battle that took place between government and opposition forces to take control of Bentiu. We are trying to help the people caught up in the violence.
Over the past four months, control of Bentiu has ping-ponged between the government and opposition forces vying for control. Rumours were rife that clashes by opposition forces were imminent and on Tuesday, 15 April, it happened. The start was signalled by the hollow sound of an anti-aircraft gun being fired in front of a pro-government base. Then, an emergency siren sent everyone to the bomb shelter.
Opposition forces surrounded Bentiu and the adjacent town of Rubkona. The combat continued for most of the day, when opposition forces appeared to carry out small operations to remove pockets of resistance that still remained. By late afternoon, the commanders of the opposition had moved into Bentiu to consolidate their position.
We had planned to implement distributions as part of our shelter programme on the same day that opposition forces began surrounding the capital. That assistance, which aimed to reach the 6,000 people is now on hold.
Regional Director for Concern Worldwide, Carol Morgan, recently returned from South Sudan. She described the harrowing conditions there.
Risk of starvation
Since the crisis began four months ago, over one million people have been driven from their homes. According to the United Nations, 3.7 million people, a third of the country’s population, are at risk of starvation.
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Twenty years since Rwanda’s genocide, we look back at the lasting difference Concern Worldwide’s work has made. Below, Jean Bosco recalls how he and his family fled Rwanda and became separated. But, thanks to our team, he was later reunited with his father.
When fighting broke out in the hills surrounding Jean Bosco’s home in Rwanda back in 1991, he and his family were forced to scatter. At just nine-years-old, Jean found himself alone, unsure if his parents were alive or dead. He made his way 150 kilometres west to Gisenye, near the border of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. There, an elderly woman took him in.
Jean was in her house when the genocide began in April 1994 and he hid there for those horrific 100 days. He recalled: “I was always really scared.”
When the bloodshed ended, Jean returned to a country devastated by the loss of over one million people in just three months. The killing spree and mass exodus left tens of thousands of children like Jean either orphaned, or separated from their families. Concern Worldwide and other charities began to register lost or “unaccompanied” children.
The number of people affected by violence in Syria is rising daily. Many are in urgent need of food, water and shelter. Concern Worldwide is working hard to help as many people as possible.
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