No simple answers in South Sudan, refugees flood the region

By April 2, 2012

South Sudan (MNN) — The rumors of war continue to make their way across Sudan and South Sudan as conflict continues. The issues between the two nations include border violence and oil pipeline negotiations. The lack of progress has forced the closure of the oil industry in South Sudan, since they have to send it through Sudan to the north.

Friday, a high-level international team of mediators gathered in Ethiopia trying to ease the tensions. Diplomatic efforts are aimed at salvaging a crucial summit meeting that was canceled in the wake of this week's border clashes.

However, refugees have been crossing from Sudan in the north into South Sudan creating a crisis that could spiral out of control.

Sudan Director for Food for the Hungry, Yves Habumugisha, speaking from Sudan, says there are already 85,000 who have fled the high conflict areas. If a resolution isn't reached, Habumugisha says it'll get worse. "This would mean that over the next couple of months we may have as many as 500,000 people coming to the Southeast."

He says the states of Upper Nile, Jonglei, and Western Behr el Ghazal would be the hardest hit. Habumugisha says this would cause a huge humanitarian catastrophe.

Senior program officer for emergency response Leena Samuel says, "There [are] many displaced people who need shelter, they need food. They need water. They're livelihoods have been destroyed. On top of that the food security situation, the food crisis has escalated, so there are a lot of areas within this country who are very food insecure."

The refugee crisis is already a problem with internally displaced people. They've been forced to leave areas because of internal tribal conflict. Habumugisha says the church is helping. "The church in South Sudan has been mobilizing resources to respond, but at the same time doing a great job to help heal the nation after the days of conflict."

He says, "The church is working toward reconciliation and healing and this has created a sense of revival in South Sudan."

Food for the Hungry is asking you to pray for the situation in Sudan as well as support their work. Click here to contribute.

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