Humanitarian Situation in South Sudan Worsening

Prolonged violence in the new state of South Sudan has led to a growing humanitarian crisis as more and more displaced people are in need of emergency aid.

Violence has been concentrated in the Jonglei State in the Eastern part of the country where cattle raids have become increasingly violent and frequent. In January alone, over 130 people were reportedly killed in raids and entire villages burned to the ground.

The raids, which have been ongoing between the Murle and Lou Nuer communities for decades, have intensified due to the weaponry left in the region from Sudan's two decade civil war.

Officials estimate that nearly 120,000 people have been affected by the violence so far, and in some regions, more than 10,000 people are said to be without shelter or humanitarian assistance.

According to Renee Lambert, head of programmes for South Sudan for Catholic Relief Services, the situation in Jonglei is, "a pretty worrisome development."

"The nature of the current conflict has shifted. It represents a break from the traditional social fabric. It is being driven by young people who have lost their respect for their elders," Lambert said.

The Reformed Church in America (RCA) has also expressed dismay at the violence in the new nation and has requested prayer from its congregants at this time.

"This is sad news coming out of the world's newest nation, South Sudan," Derrick Jones, supervisor of RCA mission in Africa, said. "Please pray for peace and reconciliation efforts among the Lou-Nuer and Murle in South Sudan."

The RCA and other churches are currently reinforcing their humanitarian efforts in South Sudan. The RCA has committed to send $10,000 to its partners in the region, while Lutheran World Relief has shipped 2,000 health kits to assist those affected by the violence.

On Wednesday, the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund allocated $20 million to South Sudan and over $80 million to other "underfunded crises."

"Millions of people need help around the world in places which have fallen out of the headlines. These funds will help to save lives," said Valerie Amos, the under-secretary general for the UN's Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

"I hope that more funds will become available from governments and others to support a continued humanitarian response," she added.

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