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South Sudan: CARE Staff Safe Amidst Heavy Fighting Around Bentiu

CARE staff helps to unload supplies in South Sudan. © 2014 Josh Estey/CARE
CARE staff helps to unload supplies in South Sudan. © 2014 Josh Estey/CARE

(Juba, SOUTH SUDAN) CARE South Sudan confirms its staff remain safe as heavy fighting between government and opposition forces continues for a fourth day around the town of Bentiu in Unity state.

Thousands of South Sudanese have sought shelter in the nearby UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) base since the conflict broke out in December. The number of internally displaced people housed at the UN’s Protection of Civilian (POCs) sites within the base is estimated at more than 43,000, making it the largest in the country. CARE is delivering much needed health, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene services within the PoCs where the humanitarian situation remains critical.

“We are providing essential critical health services to the people in the PoC,” said Mr. Hailu Yilma, CARE’s State Coordinator for Unity, speaking from Bentiu. “Our health and nutrition facilities have resumed operations. Staff were working until yesterday morning, but were forced to stop when shooting began.”

CARE is preparing for the potential humanitarian impact of fighting, mobilizing additional drugs and support staff when possible. All flights have been cancelled and are unlikely to resume until the fighting stops.

Aid agencies warned that further conflict would limit our ability to avert severe food insecurity. “Renewed fighting anywhere in the country makes it very difficult for CARE to alleviate food insecurity, increasing the probability of famine,” said Aimee Ansari, Country Director for CARE International in South Sudan.

“We call on all parties to end the violence and establish a lasting peace,” Ms. Ansari said.

Since the outbreak of violence in December 2013, an estimated 1.5 million people have been displaced from their homes and communities, and an estimated 450,000 people have crossed into neighboring Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda in search of food and to escape violence. CARE is providing emergency water, sanitation, hygiene services and education, in addition to nutrition and livelihoods assistance. CARE also supports over 40 health facilities in Unity and Upper Nile States, two of the states most heavily affected by fighting.

About CARE in South Sudan:

CARE has been operating in South Sudan since 1993, initially providing humanitarian relief to internally displaced people in Western Equatoria. The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 allowed CARE to expand into Jonglei and Upper Nile States to support returnees from the refugee camps, and the organization has since broadened its operations to include development programs.

Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters.

For interviews please contact: Nicole Harris, CARE’s media relations manager, at 404-735-0871 or nharris@care.org.

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