South Sudan: increasing violence, food shortages, on eve of independence

Abyei -  CAFOS image courtesy Alertnet

Abyei - CAFOS image courtesy Alertnet

A humanitarian crisis is developing in South Sudan on the eve of the new country's independence on 9 July, the  Comboni missionaries report. They say a trade embargo imposed by Khartoum is causing shortages, and outbreaks of violence are bring uncertainty and fear.

Comboni missionaries working on the shores of the White Nile, said they had been happy anticipating the birth of the new state. But now they are becoming increasingly concerned that violence has increased since the “yes” vote in the self-determination referendum.

The Sudanese army has violated the 2005 peace accords by occupying the oil-rich region of Abyeu. There have also been border  clashes from the North to the Congolese forests, with the army against the rebels. In the State of Unity, where Leer is based, the missionaries report that a mine exploded killing three people and raising fears that there is a resumption of the tactics that prevailed during the civil war.

There is also concern over the trade embargo imposed by Khartoum since the beginning of May. “The blockade at the North-South border" say the missionaries " has generated a shortage of goods and made life all the more difficult”. Moreover, the collapse of ground transportation that typically occurs during the rain season has caused food prices to double.

The Combonis say food products provided by aid agencies and intended for distribution to the poor for free, are now being sold on the markets. The schools of Leer are left with nothing, add the missionaries, and children are no longer assured meals.

Source: MISNA

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