South Sudan: CARE Welcomes News of a Peace Deal
PANYAGOR, South Sudan – CARE International in South Sudan welcomed news of a peace deal aimed at ending 5 months of brutal in-fighting that has inflicted a world of pain on residents of the world’s newest nation.
“We are cautiously optimistic that this time the agreement signed by both the president and the opposition leader will actually put an end to the fighting and let us get about the business of providing life-saving assistance to the millions of people in need of help,” said Country Director Aimee Ansari. More than 600,000 people have been displaced by violence since a first Cessation of Hostilities Agreement was signed by the parties on January 23, bringing the total number of displaced to almost 1.3 million.
“CARE has scaled up its operations and is working to bring relief to people affected by the fighting, but our efforts have been hampered by the ongoing conflict,” Ms. Ansari said. With a food security crisis underway in parts of the country where CARE works, time is running out to get badly needed aid into place before the rainy season makes most of the country’s roads impassable to large vehicles. “Bringing supplies in by air will vastly increase the cost of saving lives in states like Unity, Upper Nile and J onglei,” said Ms. Ansari.
Rachel Abu fled her home in neighboring Duk County after armed men attacked in the predawn hours, killing three of her sons and burning down the house. She said she would have to wait and see before going back to rebuild her family’s life in the town of Duk Padet. “If they have signed a peace, and there is really no fighting, then we can go back,” Ms. Abu said, holding the 14 month-old daughter of one of her recently killed sons. “But we are afraid. If they sign and there is still more fighting, then we can’t go back. We have to wait and see.”
Ms. Abu and her remaining family were staying with other families displace from Duk County in a borrowed shed in Panyagor. CARE interviewed the family as the first step in the distribution of farming and fishing kits and aimed at helping people get back on their feet. “If we can find a little piece of land digging and we get some seed, then we can plant,” she said. The family left only with the clothes on their backs. She said her three sons were killed trying to defend them from the attackers as the women and children fled.
In addition to providing emergency assistance to people affected by the conflict in Jonglei, CARE is supporting health care in two counties: Twic East and Uror. CARE has been active in what is now South Sudan for more than 15 years. “We will continue to stand by the people of South Sudan and help them through this terrible crisis,” Ms. Ansari said. On Thursday, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) warned that “Without urgent action … famine is possible in localized (sub-county) areas of Jonglei and Unity States during the coming four months.” FEWSNET’s “Food Security Alert” said that Jonglei’s Duk County was “one of the counties of greatest concern.”
The agreement signed Friday by President Salva Kiir and former vice president commits to a cessation of hostilities and guaranteed humanitarian access to people in need throughout South Sudan. It also commits the parties to form a transitional government and institute reforms aimed at bringing about national unity. The reforms are still to be worked out in an ongoing peace process.
Written by Dan Alder