South Sudan’s civil war is forcing people to flee towns and villages, leading to a devastating food crisis. Over 4 million of the 11 million citizens in South Sudan face starvation, including 50,000 children.
Unfortunately, the country is in the middle of rainy season. Food cannot reach people in need due to flooded roads, and farmers cannot plant food. Humanitarian groups drop food, which is more expensive, but it may be the only way for the people to eat. Nonetheless, the workers are not out of danger because they are in the air; gunmen shot down a United Nations Mi-8 helicopter near Bentiu. Three people died and one was injured.
All flights to Bentiu were grounded. Humanitarian efforts in the city slowed. In August, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) revealed the horrid conditions at a United Nations camp in Bentiu. The camp was flooded due to the rains in July, and “many were living in knee-deep sewage-contaminated floodwater.” In Maban, unarmed workers were killed.
Over 1.3 million moved around in South Sudan. Hundreds of thousands more fled to other African countries. The Netherlands recently cut off aid to South Sudan due to human rights violations and no steps by the government to end the civil war.
“We have decided to stop cooperation with the government at this point,” said Lillianne Plouman, the Dutch minister of foreign trade and development cooperation. “We feel that the government and the opposition should put more weight behind the peace process and should show more progress in the peace process.”
The Dutch government is also concerned about the abuse and mistreatment of medical and humanitarian workers. But Plouman said the Dutch will continue to support organizations and churches who provide “programs for development.”