Amid killings, rapes and abductions, the international evangelical humanitarian agency World Vision indefinitely suspended its operations in South Sudan’s Unity State over the escalating conflict.
Multiple other aid agencies, including Doctors Without Borders, have taken similar action.
On May 13, gunmen torched towns in some of the heaviest fighting in the 17-month-long conflict in the predominantly Christian country.
World Vision partnered with the United Nations to distribute shelter materials and other emergency relief supplies, including food, water and sanitation services, and mosquito nets. In addition, the organization’s nutrition programs target children under age 5.
Samar Abboud, the group’s acting national director, said aid workers could no longer work in Unity State under the circumstances. “We estimate that more than 10,000 children under 5 face malnutrition and nearly 300,000 throughout Unity State are left in need of aid.”
Africa’s newest nation descended into chaos in December 2013 after a dispute in the ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.
Since then, fighting between President Salva Kiir’s government forces and rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar has left more than 1.5 million people displaced. Unity State is Machar’s home state.
“We … have consistently stated that there is no moral justification and no excuse to continue fighting and killing,” said the Rev. Peter Gai Lual, South Sudan Council of Churches chairman, in an April 17 World Council of Churches statement.