In light of the ongoing conflict and food scarcity in South Sudan, the Irish Jesuit Missions Office is creating a special appeal for South Sudan this Spring/Summer. 

For the last twenty years the Irish Jesuit Mission Office has supported projects in North and South Sudan including schools, refugee and IDP camps. Conflict in South Sudan which broke out before Christmas has considerably worsened in recent weeks, and the large displacement of people is now affecting food security. More than 1 million people have been displaced, and 3.7 million people are at risk of starvation (one-third of the population) in the world’s youngest state. European Jesuit Mission offices are coordinating a response to the crisis, and we will let you know how you can participate. Meanwhile, find below a summary of the situation. 

Amnesty International has recently published a report on the emergency in South Sudan entitled ‘South Sudan: Nowhere Safe’. The report details a list of horrific atrocities, including ethnically motivated civilian attacks which, according to Amnesty International, constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. ““This research reveals the unimaginable suffering of so many defenceless civilians unable to escape the growing spiral of violence in South Sudan. Civilians have been massacred in the very places where they sought refuge. Children and pregnant women have been raped, and old and infirm people shot dead in their hospital beds,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa. ““Forces on both sides have shown total disregard for the most fundamental principles of international human rights and humanitarian law. Those up and down the chain of command on both sides of the conflict who are responsible for perpetrating, ordering or acquiescing to such grave abuses, some which constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, must be held accountable.” 

As the planting season rolls around, the costs of the conflict increase, as South Sudan now faces the possibility of the worst famine in the continent since the 1980s. More than one million people have been displaced in the last five months, which has prevented civilians from planting their crops before the rainy season. Access for humanitarian aid will also be reduced once the rains come, as many roads will become unpassable. The United Nations World Food Programme has predicted serious food shortages by August, unless planting can be completed before the rains come in May. Furthermore, they have stated that South Sudan needs $230 million in international aid in order to prevent large scale famine. Currently about 3.7 million people – almost one-third of the total population – are already at severe risk of starvation.