South Sudan: humanitarian devastation threatens referendum

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A humanitarian devastation after last month’s floods threatens to throw south Sudan’s referendum for independence into confusion following the displacement of over 60,000 of its population. The region’s population of 8 million is short of food and malaria has broken out.

According to south Sudan’s Health Minister, Luka Monoja, the rains were expected to continue until October, meaning the worst may be yet to come, and some believe that this devastation could affect the region’s referendum for independence.

Analysts fear the mounting humanitarian crisis will add to problems of insecurity ahead of the January 9 vote and probably destabilize a newly independent state should the referendum pass.

Meanwhile, Northern Bahr El-Ghazal, the region due to receive some of the 1.5 million people the government plans to bring home from northern Sudan before the January vote is most affected by the flood.

Undersecretary for health, Olivia Lomoro, said the capital of Northern Bahr El-Ghazal state, was ground zero for the crisis. The area which was one of the hardest hit in a two-decade long civil war is already heavily reliant on international food aid.

“In the last one month 57,135 people have been displaced by the floods. Many were at risk of malaria and water-borne diseases,” Olivia Lomoro was quoted.

Sudan’s mainly Christian and animist south has fought the mainly Muslim north over ethnicity, ideology and resources since 1955, in what has been described as Africa’s longest running civil war.

A 2005 peace deal brought the war to an end; including a referendum for the south’s independence.

However, the road to independence for the south has not been without concerns, and the humanitarian devastation in the region threatens the regions stability.

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