Violence at Sudan-South Sudan border hampers relief efforts

In a region already threatened by food shortages, escalating unrest makes aid delivery increasingly difficult.

By James Addis, with reporting by Laura Blank and Lauren Fisher, World Vision U.S.
Published April 26, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

Humanitarian organizations have evacuated staff from the town of Bentiu, South Sudan, in response to increased violence in the area.

World Vision is among the organizations to leave Bentiu, close to the border with neighboring Sudan, though it will continue to provide emergency relief to the town by making a daily two-hour trip from nearby Leer.

Children are especially vulnerable

The BBC recently reported that at least two planes dropped several bombs on Bentiu. Violence in the border region has picked up in recent weeks as Sudan and South Sudan contest valuable oil reserves.

Edwin Asante, World Vision’s national director in South Sudan, says it is already incredibly difficult to deliver humanitarian assistance in the nation and will become impossible if conflict becomes more widespread.

“Lives of children and communities are at stake, and World Vision calls upon all stakeholders and the international community to do whatever is possible to help avert war,” Edwin says.

World Vision fears that further conflict will see children pulled out of school, as well as face increased risk of abduction and the possibility of being recruited by armed groups and local militias.

“We want to see this nation’s children healthy and in school, not caught up in conflict,” Edwin says.

Food sources further strained by conflict

Meanwhile, the World Food Program estimates the number of people threatened by food shortages in South Sudan has risen to 4.7 million people, half of the current population.

Charles Owubah, World Vision’s East Africa regional leader, says the ongoing violence with the north, plus tribal fighting within South Sudan, puts further pressure on the government as it struggles to find enough food to feed its people.

To make matters worse, the fledgling country is hosting more than 400,000 refugees who are either fleeing fighting in border areas or who have left Sudan to return to their homeland in South Sudan. Thousands more returnees are expected in the coming months.

World Vision scales up response

In anticipation of the increased need, World Vision is scaling up the response in the most affected areas with an eye on both immediate aid and long-term development.

Activities include:

>>Distributing food, hygiene kits, mosquito nets, blankets, buckets, and soap to more than 6,000 vulnerable households in border areas
>>Providing medical treatment and immunizations for displaced people in camps
>>Offering food incentive programs to encourage children to remain in school
>>Drilling new borehole wells and installing sanitation facilities to serve 23,000 people
>>Partnering with local churches, schools, and other nonprofit agencies to run peacebuilding programs among children and adults

Two ways you can help

Pray for children and families at risk due to instability and food shortages. Pray for peace in the region. Pray that families will be able to access the food needed to sustain them.

Make a one-time gift to our Sudan and South Sudan Relief Fund to help World Vision provide food, clean water, healthcare, and other humanitarian assistance in this troubled part of the world.