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Trócaire has been forced to evacuate three staff members from an area of South Sudan as a result of heavy fighting. Three staff members, who are all South Sudan nationals, spent three days taking shelter in a UN compound before being evacuated.
Our office in Melut, which is in the north of the country, has been broken into and badly looted as government and anti-government forces fight for control of the region. We have been forced to suspend our humanitarian programmes in the region, which had been delivering aid to 20,000 people in two towns.
The staff members spent three days bunkered inside the UN compound in Melut before we were able to evacuate them to Juba. They reported constant shelling – believed to be mortar fire – while they were in the compound.
The UN has reported that four displaced people sheltering in the ‘Protection’ section of the compound were killed and eight people injured.
Until the outbreak of this recent fighting the joint programme between Trócaire and CAFOD, Trócaire’s sister organisation in England and Wales, was delivering humanitarian aid to more than 20,000 people through our partner Caritas Malakal.
Ordinary people are bearing the brunt of this renewed fighting, which only serves to deepen and prolong their suffering, as they flee to escape attacks by government and opposition forces.
Beleaguered communities must be protected, and not become military targets. It is essential that we are able to continue our work with vulnerable communities providing vital food, clean water, shelter and other essential items they urgently need.
Fighting broke out between the government of President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar in December 2013, first on the streets of the capital Juba, before quickly spreading across the country. The conflict has forced an estimated one million people from their homes, and thousands have been killed.
The international community and all parties to the conflict must redouble their efforts towards securing a sustainable, negotiated, peaceful solution to the conflict. Now is not the time for the world to walk away from South Sudan. The people more than ever deserve our concerted attention and efforts; inaction is not an option.
Trócaire12 April 2021
Leigh Brady08 April 2021