The global humanitarian organisation CARE is encouraged by the ceasefire announced this week by warring factions in the world’s youngest country, South Sudan, particularly the portion of the agreement calling for opening up corridors of humanitarian aid.
The ceasefire is due to begin 30 June, and the parties are committed to finalising four outstanding issues in the security arrangements by that point.
“We are hopeful that this ceasefire will lead to lasting peace in a country whose brief history has been plagued by sustained violence and the suffering of so many innocent people, particularly the women and girls who have borne the brunt of this crisis,” said Rosalind Crowther, CARE’s Country Director in South Sudan.
“Opening channels to deliver much-needed aid will allow CARE to reach more families by delivering food, supporting survivors of sexual violence, and helping those who have been forced from their homes.”
South Sudan gained its independence in 2011. Fighting broke out two years later and has since gripped the South Sudanese people, forcing more than 4 million of them — one-third of the population — from their homes. Approximately 1.8 million people are displaced within the country and another 2.4 million are living as refugees in neighbouring countries such as Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia. Previous ceasefires have failed, with renewed fighting having only intensified the need for humanitarian aid.
Beyond the physical threat from the fighting itself, South Sudan’s civil war has also contributed to the highest level of food insecurity in the country’s history, leaving about half the country’s population in need of food. Disease and an extraordinary lack of access to food has exacerbated malnutrition among children under the age of five. For the displaced population the priority is protection from sexual and physical violence, including the need for safe spaces for children, women and vulnerable people, and psychosocial counselling for trauma.
“The ceasefire is a promising and significant step toward relieving the suffering of so many South Sudanese people, who, while strong and resilient, are at the same time immensely vulnerable,” Ms Crowther said. “We hope that expanded avenues for delivering lifesaving relief will allow CARE and other organisations to extend their humanitarian reach and help families overcome the damage unspeakable violence and hunger have wrought in their lives and communities.”
CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid organisation fighting poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities. To support CARE Australia’s East Africa Hunger Crisis Appeal go to care.org.au/eastafrica
To arrange interviews please contact CARE Australia Senior Media Advisor Sam Bolitho.