Mercy Corps: Violent Clashes Could Fling Fragile South Sudan Back into Deep Chaos

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Monday’s cease-fire must hold to keep hope for peace alive

A Mercy Corps team member distributes a kit including a mat, blanket and cooking set to a woman living in a camp for people displaced by violence in South Sudan. Credit: Camille Lepage for Mercy Corps

We should have been celebrating five years of South Sudan’s independence. Instead, we hear gunfire and explosions, and watch people run for their lives. Some of our team members have had to take shelter in churches or at the homes of relatives.

Monday’s cease-fire in South Sudan’s capital city, Juba, must hold if the embattled country wants to keep alive hope for a lasting peace agreement, says the global organization Mercy Corps. According to news reports, more than 300 people have been killed in violent clashes since last Friday. All Mercy Corps team members in South Sudan are safe and accounted for, and Mercy Corps continues to provide critical services.

“We should have been celebrating five years of South Sudan’s independence. Instead, we heard gunfire and explosions, and watched people run for their lives. Some of our team members had to take shelter in churches or at the homes of relatives,” says Deepmala Mahla, Mercy Corps’ country director in South Sudan. “This latest fighting is a major setback – for the country, and for the millions of people who have suffered through three years of war.”

Since the conflict began in 2013, about 2 million people have been forced to flee their homes. Severe hunger looms for more than 6 million people across the country and families everywhere are struggling. Mercy Corps delivers essential supplies as well as fishing and farm tools, creates jobs through cash-for-work projects, provides clean water and sanitation services and operates safe spaces for children. The organization reaches about 150,000 men, women and children in South Sudan each year.

“We are very concerned that the fighting in Juba will spread and spark renewed conflict elsewhere in the country,” says Mahla. “Before things spiral further out of control, all parties to the conflict must honor today’s call for a cease-fire and bring this conflict to a peaceful resolution.”

Mercy Corps has worked in South Sudan since 1995. “We remain committed to helping the communities where we work,” says Mahla. “Most of all, we thank our team members for their courage and determination in the face of these grim circumstances.”

To support Mercy Corps’ work in South Sudan and around the world, join us at mercycorps.org.

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Christine Bragale
Mercy Corps
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