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South Sudan: Five photos and many questions

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Children who have collected water bring it back to their temporary homes at the settlement in Awerial. Access to clean water for cooking and drinking significantly reduces the risk of waterborne diseases like cholera. Photo by Geoff Pugh/Oxfam Children who have collected water bring it back to their temporary homes at the settlement in Awerial. Access to clean water for cooking and drinking significantly reduces the risk of waterborne diseases like cholera. Photo by Geoff Pugh/Oxfam

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Though a cease-fire has been declared in South Sudan, the conflict has displaced nearly half a million people.

There’s an old family photo I’ve been studying lately, snapped by my father when my siblings and I were very young. We’re in the woods—all five of us kids with our mother—in various stages of gobbling a picnic lunch. With one child hovering at her knees, our mother tries to feed the baby as another child, about 4, lurches out of the frame, his head down, intent on scouting something. Who was going to catch up with him?

I look at that picture now and think how did my mother do it? How could she keep track of so many lives? How does any mother do it?

Those same kinds of questions came to me last week when I opened a link to a series of photos sent by Oxfam staffers in South Sudan where conflict has again broken out, forcing almost half a million people from their homes. Though a cease-fire has now been declared, more than 84,000 people have taken refuge in a settlement called Awerial. Tents and shelters strung together from cloth and tarps now serve as homes for families. Children scamper everywhere. How are their mothers managing? How long will they have to endure displacement?

Oxfam is working with the UN and other humanitarian agencies to distribute food and water to those affected by the crisis and to dig latrines. Working at Tong Ping and UN House in Juba as well as Awerial in Lakes states, Oxfam has reached 115,000 people with emergency assistance.

Sunset over Awerial

sunset-south-sudan
Many of the people camped here in this settlement in Awerial in Lakes state fled from their homes with only the few possessions they could carry—often just some clothes and blankets. Oxfam is providing people here with 300,000 liters of purified water each day. We are also helping community members dig latrines—almost 200 so far—with a total of 1,500 planned. Photo by Geoff Pugh/Oxfam

A river crossing

Many of the people seeking safety in Awerial along the shores of the Nile have come by boat from the town of Bor, often traveling through the night, and often paying very high prices for the passage. Photo by Geoff Pugh/Oxfam
Many of the people seeking safety in Awerial along the shores of the Nile have come by boat from the town of Bor, often traveling through the night, and often paying very high prices for the passage. Photo by Geoff Pugh/Oxfam

The difference is clear

A boy demonstrates the difference between the clean water Oxfam is now providing and the dirty water from the Nile River in the Awerial settlement. Oxfam treats the water directly from the river and then distributes it to tap stands across the settlement. Photo by Geoff Pugh/Oxfam
A boy demonstrates the difference between the clean water Oxfam is now providing and the dirty water from the Nile River in the Awerial settlement. Oxfam treats the water directly from the river and then distributes it to tap stands across the settlement. Photo by Geoff Pugh/Oxfam

Sharing the burden

An Oxfam staffer helps a woman at UN House in Juba carry home some of the emergency supplies she has just received. About 13,500 people are now camped at this location. Oxfam is supporting the delivery of approximately 250,000 liters of water per day here. We are upgrading water collection points as well as latrines and bathing stalls. Photo by Anita Kattakhuzy/Oxfam
An Oxfam staffer helps a woman at UN House in Juba carry home some of the emergency supplies she has just received. About 13,500 people are now camped at this location. Oxfam is supporting the delivery of approximately 250,000 liters of water per day here. We are upgrading water collection points as well as latrines and bathing stalls. Photo by Anita Kattakhuzy/Oxfam

 

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  1.  avatarkone

    Congratulations to all these international organizations that have pooled their skills and energy for an efficient and sustainable fight against this lethal epidemic that hit the African continent as well as the Caribbean such as Oxfam International and especially the GAAC (Global Alliance Against Cholera/ Alliance de Lutte Internationale contre le Choléra).
    A collective action is the key to overcome the transmission of cholera and to reduce the death pool. The financial support granted by the United Nations is not sufficient, thus it is essential to gather money from international donors and public authorities in order to support the program for the elimination of cholera.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Vulnerable Sudanese continue to flee as aid pours in

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