In South Sudan, the world’s youngest country is unravelling after a wave of politically motivated violence swept across Juba in December 2013. Fighting has taken on ethnic dimensions, forcing civilians to flee. At least 1 million people have been displaced, and towns are in ruins.
Tensions within the South Sudanese government escalated in July 2013 after President Salva Kiir reshuffled the cabinet. In December 2013, political fighting among different elements of the national army in Juba spread into several other states. To date, 1 million people have been displaced (including 254,600 who have fled into neighboring countries) and thousands are reported dead.
The most affected areas are Jonglei, Unity, Upper Nile, Lakes, Central Equatoria and Eastern Equatoria State. The state capitals Bor and Bentiu were recaptured in January and remain under government control. Opposition forces are in control of Malakal, including its airport. The humanitarian situation is especially grave. The conflict has limited access to the most affected areas due to insecurity in the towns and on the roads. CRS and peer agencies are pushing for the establishment of a coordinated, reliable mechanism for reaching people in need in both government- and opposition-held areas. Serious concerns remain about food security through 2015 if people in the conflict areas are unable to plant crops before the end of April, which is planting season. CRS continues to support the local Church in its efforts to bring an end to the violence.
The Catholic Church in South Sudan
In March 2014, Cardinal Peter Turkson spent 8 days in Juba to support the people and Church in South Sudan. The Cardinal met with CRS and Caritas partners, as well as the president and entire cabinet of South Sudan, to discuss the humanitarian situation. The Catholic Church has long been a negotiator of peace in the region. Throughout the country’s turbulent past, the Church kept schools open, brought people together to resolve conflict and tended the sick. Today, Catholic entities sponsor some of the only networks of social service centers.
CRS Impact to Date
CRS and Caritas have provided:
- Emergency living supplies to 2,926 households (14,630 people) in Awerial and Twic East County (Jonglei)
- Hygiene-awareness sessions for 3,036 displaced people, including 389 heads of households
- Eleven latrine blocks in Ahou that are fully equipped with hand-washing stations
We are ramping up resources for thousands more families in the most-affected areas as security and access allow. View photo slideshow of recent activities at: http://www.crs.org/south-sudan/emergency-response/index.cfm.
Emergency living and shelter supplies: Essential supplies for daily living, including cooking sets, blankets, utensils, buckets.
Transitional shelter: Provision of shelter kits with key supplies for families to build transitional homes.
Water, hygiene and sanitation: Clean water, hygiene supplies, construction of latrines and other means for sanitation.
Peace and conflict resolution: The bishops of South Sudan are calling for both sides to stop the violence, especially against civilians. CRS is supporting the Committee for National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation, spearheaded by Archbishop Daniel Deng from the Episcopal Church of Sudan and Catholic Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban. CRS also plans to support the Catholic Secretariat in higher-level advocacy and dissemination of critical messages to help restore relationships.