Thousands of South Sudanese are facing a humanitarian crisis, including a heightened risk of hunger, malnutrition, and disease after months of armed conflicts and floods, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned Monday.
“Months of conflict followed by torrential rains have created a deepening humanitarian crisis in which communities now face a heightened risk of hunger, malnutrition and disease in South Sudan’s Central, Western and Eastern Equatoria states,” the ICRC said in a report on the East-Central African country.
“We believe there are many people who are living in the bush who need urgent assistance,” Amro Ibrahim, the ICRC’s head of sub-delegation in the Equatorias, was quoted as saying in the report.
“We call on all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to prevent human suffering and ensure the protection of civilians and their property,” he said in reference to fighting between the National Salvation Front (NAS) and the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces, as well as between NAS and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition.
“Families and communities impacted by the conflict, heavy rains and floods are in urgent need of assistance as they are unable to meet their basic needs such as food, clean drinking water, shelter and health services,” said the report.
Amid all that, healthcare services — already limited in rural communities in South Sudan — “are more inaccessible due to continuing insecurity related to the conflict. Displaced families remain at risk of malaria, malnutrition, water-borne diseases and other health related challenges,” the report said.
The ICRC added that this humanitarian crisis is taking place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, whose restrictions “limit the ability of humanitarian organizations to freely move and assist the most vulnerable at a time when access to these services remains critical.”