Skip to main content

“The world must step in to avert South Sudan crisis”

Photo: Alun McDonald/Oxfam

by Al Kinley, editorial assistant for Oxfam Great Britain’s digital communications

There was an excellent opinion piece and slideshow on CNN’s site recently. It’s written by Pauline Ballaman, who leads our emergency response in the Jamam refugee camp, in South Sudan.

Jamam refugee camp is in a desperate situation,” she says. “All day Oxfam trucks water from the very few working boreholes in or near the camp to tanks close to the road. Women wait in the heat for up to four hours twice a day, next to their long queues of buckets and jerry cans. Men with sticks and whips police the lines. Fights break out all the time. No one has to ask why. There is simply not enough water and we are running out of options and we are running out of time.”

Pauline goes on, “This is the daily struggle that is the human face of peace failing in the Sudans. The conflict in Blue Nile has been going on for months, and now in the past few weeks fighting between Sudan and South Sudan threatens to further destabilize the wider border region these refugees still live in.”

These are unpleasant truths to face, but we must face them to avoid a greater crisis.

“To truly understand why peace is so important,” says Pauline, “the world needs to remember it’s not just the fighting that matters but also the enormous suffering it causes those who have already been forced to flee it. The interrupted lives, deadened by displacement in the hot, unblinking heat. In barely established camps like Jamam there’s nothing to do but wait.

“Humanitarian agencies working in the camp are looking into options including relocating a large number of the refugees to a new site, and putting in a pipeline that will hopefully mean the water can reach the camp more reliably when the roads fall apart.

“But there’s only one real solution. People need peace and people need to be able to go home.”

Find out more

Read about the situation in the Sudans and Oxfam’s work in the region