South Sudan: Without peace deal, scorched-earth tactics and civilian suffering will continue (10.09.2018)
It is important that any political solution takes into account the needs of everyday South Sudanese people, especially marginalized groups like women.
GENEVA, Switzerland, September 10, 2018 – The signing of a peace agreement between South Sudan’s warring parties is a hopeful sign that a sustainable solution can be found for a conflict that has had tragic consequences for millions of civilians.
It is important that any political solution takes into account the needs of everyday South Sudanese people, especially marginalized groups like women, said Dominik Stillhart, the global director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
“The human cost of continued conflict in South Sudan has led to humanitarian catastrophe inside the country. That’s not hyperbole. That’s fact,” said Stillhart, who visited South Sudan last week to speak with residents and view ICRC’s operations.
Civilians should not bear the brunt of conflict, but in South Sudan they often do. So far this year, the ICRC has admitted 69 children and 47 women into our hospitals with injuries from weapons. Untold thousands of children are being deprived of school and many are separated from their families.
The conflict has been particularly brutal on women. They are left to fight for the survival of their families, fleeing with their children and foraging for food. Thousands have endured rape or sexual assault. The ICRC calls on those at the negotiating table to make sure any agreement takes into account their needs, as well as those of other marginalized groups.
“Without a ceasefire, the past five years tell us that scorched-earth tactics will likely continue, as we have seen continuous and systemic disregard for international humanitarian law and the civilians that the law protects,” Stillhart said. “Aid organizations can provide relief but cannot end the violence and displacement the South Sudanese people have endured for five years — only a political solution can.”
Facts and Figures:
• From January – June 2018 the ICRC distributed 29,700 monthly household food rations to more than 223,000 people, gave 158,000 people seeds and tools for farming and 103,000 people fishing kits.
• ICRC performed 1,735 surgical interventions, evacuated 316 people with conflict-related injuries, provided consultations for more than 75,000 patients, and improved access to safe drinking water to some 273,000 people, and visited nearly 3,600 detainees.
• Together with the South Sudan Red Cross this year we have facilitated more than 29,000 phone calls between family members and their loved ones. We have also physically reunited 33 people, including children, with their families.
• We spread knowledge and respect for International Humanitarian Law. More than 1,500 military personnel and nearly 1,500 police personnel have been trained this year.
• The ICRC has been permanently active in South Sudan for 38 years.