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South Sudan conflict: British Red Cross pledges support to save lives

4 February 2014

Intense fighting in South Sudan has left nearly one million people homeless and brought about a vast humanitarian crisis.

Around 740,000 people are displaced inside South Sudan while another 123,400 people have fled to neighbouring countries since fighting erupted in December, according to the UN.

The British Red Cross last week pledged £175,000 from its Disaster Fund to support the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the African nation. 

A ceasefire was agreed on 23 January, although there are still reports of sporadic clashes between rival factions. 

Humanitarian crisis

Formed in 2011 following a breakaway from Sudan, South Sudan is the world’s newest nation.

Some 4.4 million people were estimated to be at risk of food shortages prior to the outbreak of hostilities with the conflict likely to exacerbate the problem.

Aid agencies are scaling up activities to help civilians left in conditions of extreme vulnerability, but security restrictions are hampering efforts.

The ICRC has had a presence in what is now South Sudan since 1980. As well as working with detainees and promoting international humanitarian law, the ICRC is particularly concerned with helping civilians.

Since the conflict began, the ICRC has focused its resources to help displaced and injured people. With the support of volunteers from the South Sudan Red Cross, the ICRC has: 

  • Deployed two four-person surgical teams – in addition to two teams already in-country – who have performed 453 surgeries. More teams are set to arrive.
  • Working alongside partners, it has provided emergency food to 50,000 displaced people in Awerial County, as well as emergency shelter for 18,000 people.
  • Helped reunite families separated by the fighting.
  • Delivered more than one million litres of clean water and built water points in six states

Tense situation

The pledge from the British Red Cross will go towards supporting the work of the ICRC.

Ben Webster, disaster response programme manager, said: “The conflict in South Sudan has brought about a humanitarian crisis on a vast scale.

“The situation remains particularly tense and it remains to be seen whether a peaceful resolution can be found.

“Our priority right now is helping the huge numbers of people affected by the fighting and who have been left in an extremely vulnerable position. The pledge from our Disaster Fund will help the ICRC in its efforts and we will continue to monitor the situation.”

The British Red Cross has a partnership with the South Sudan Red Cross aimed at building its capacity. The support is ongoing, although planned work has been adjusted given the current insecurity.   

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