Following four days of bloody clashes between rival forces in South Sudan, which has left close to 300 people dead, at least 42,000 displaced and tens of thousands facing critical food and water shortages, the humanitarian situation in Juba is deteriorating despite the implementation of a fragile ceasefire on Monday evening.
Peter Walsh, Save the Children Country Director of South Sudan said: “There are bodies in the streets, shops have been looted, markets closed, people are queueing for food and families are desperately trying to leave the city but without the financial means for bus fares. People are returning to their homes with children who are visibly exhausted after spending nights out in the open with little to eat or drink.”
According to an eyewitness report from a member of Save the Children staff, a ten-month-old baby died in Juba market yesterday as his desperate parents searched for scarce food and medicines.
“It is not known exactly why the child died but the current lack of access to food, water and basic health care is exacerbating already-chronic needs. The staff member who reported this incident himself says his family only has a three-day supply of food left and this is the case for many, many people across the capital,” Walsh said.
More than 13,000 children have been separated from their families in South Sudan since December 2013. The violence that has exploded in Juba over recent days only escalates the chances that many more will have lost their parents or guardians in the unfolding chaos.
“The ceasefire in Juba is being maintained, for now, but there has already been a huge impact on our operations in terms of trying to getting much-needed cash to maintain our programmes in the field. All internal flights have been cancelled and the power has been intermittent for days.”
Save the Children is calling on the national and international community to act now to prevent any further escalation of violence and find a long-term solution to the crisis. The aid agency is also calling on all warring parties in South Sudan to maintain the ceasefire in the interest of protecting all civilians.