A senior relief official in South Sudan called on warring parties to stop fighting in Wau and urged access for humanitarian partners to access those in need in the northwest region.
Humanitarian Coordinator Eugene Owusu who made a one-day visit to Wau expressed shock and outrage regarding the loss of life, displacement, and suffering that civilians have endured as a result of the fighting.
“This is entirely unacceptable. All armed actors must immediately uphold their obligations to protect civilians and ensure that the guns remain silent in Wau,” Owusu said in a statement issued in Juba.
He said it’s the civilians who have borne the brunt of conflict in Wau, as in so many other locations across this country.
The relief official expressed alarm at the fighting that broke out on June 24 and has killed over 40 people and displaced an estimated 70,000 people.
Of those, at least 12,000 people are sheltering near the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan ((UNMISS) base in Wau.
“The humanitarian community has responded rapidly to this crisis and the team on the ground is working around the clock to assist people in dire need,” Owusu said.
“With the rainy season upon us, we are in a race against time and additional funds are urgently required. Our overall response in South Sudan is just 39 per cent funded,” he added.
Prior to this latest round of fighting, the UN said there were already an estimated 100,000 people displaced in and around Wau town from previous incidents, including fighting in February.
Many people have now been displaced multiple times and their coping capacities are exhausted. Sexual violence is a particular concern in and around Wau, where large numbers of cases were reported during the February fighting.
“People told us they were forced to flee their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs and many reported witnessing horrendous acts of violence against family and friends,” said Owusu.
“No one should be forced to suffer what these people have been through. The violence must stop and the parties to the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan must stand true to their word,” he added.
Humanitarian partners have sent additional teams and supplies to bolster the response throughout the affected area and have set up mobile health clinics, established temporary water systems, distributed food, nutritional supplements and high energy biscuits, and provided vital non-food items, including blankets, mosquito nets, and kitchen sets.