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JUBA, South Sudan (January 24, 2014) CARE welcomes the ceasefire agreement reached for South Sudan and hopes it will create an opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands of people who are in desperate need of help.
“There still are half a million people displaced across the country. Many are exhausted, traumatized and have had little food or water. Many are still too afraid to go home, and given the scale of the destruction, may have no home to return to,” said Aimee Ansari, country director for CARE in South Sudan.
Political violence erupted in South Sudan on Dec. 15, 2013, and over the past 5 weeks has claimed several thousand lives, displaced close to 500,000 people inside the country and sent at least another 86,000 people fleeing to neighboring countries. Hostilities have so far made it impossible for relief organizations to reach more than half of the internally displaced with any type of aid.
More than 60,000 people crowded into Protection of Civilians areas set up in and around UN compounds. Close to 100,000 gathered along the banks of the White Nile, across the river from the heavily disputed state of Jonglei. And several hundred thousand more have endured arduous cross country journeys in search of safety in neighboring countries or just inside the border. The UN also says many of the displaced have been hiding in the bush, out of the sight of relief organizations.
CARE is deeply concerned that women and girls, already living in one of the world’s harshest environments, are at great risk. The vast majority of internally displaced people and refugees are women and children. Many women have had to flee with their children as their husbands stayed behind.
South Sudan became independent in 2011 after decades of conflict. As a newest country in the world, South Sudan is struggling to meet the basic needs of its diverse and thinly spread population.
As soon as the situation permits, CARE is positioned to scale up water, sanitation, and nutrition programs to help people affected by the violence, including on the border with Uganda where thousands have fled and in search for shelter. In Uganda, CARE is mounting a response in the Western Nile region to help some of the more than 46,000 South Sudanese refugees who have taken refuge there.
CARE has implemented relief in development programs in what is now South Sudan for two decades. Our programming is concentrated in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity, the three states most affected by the recent violence. The programs focus on health, water, sanitation, livelihoods and peacebuilding for hundreds of thousands of people. Our pre-crisis programming also worked o raise awareness about gender-based violence and encourage men and women to stop this form of abuse.
Those programs have largely been put on hold, with CARE programming focused on providing life-saving services where we can access those in need.
About CARE: CARE has been operating in Southern 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.