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Gunshot injuries still high despite S. Sudan’s peace deal: ICRC

July 7, 2019 (JUBA) - The number of patients admitted to surgical units supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in South Sudan with injuries from violence remains high 10 months after the signing of a peace agreement, the aid agency said on Monday.

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After their release, Prisoners of war line up as they board ICRC plane to Juba on 28 January 2018 (ST Photo)

ICRC, in a statement, said there has been only a small drop-off in the number of injuries from gunshot and other weapons at two of the facilities it supports since the accord was signed in September 2018.

According to the aid agency, 97% of admitted patients over a recent six-month period suffered gunshot wounds, an indication of the high prevalence and easy access to fire arms.

"We have seen a drop in fighting between parties to the conflict, a very hopeful sign. However, inter-communal violence—mostly linked to cattle raids and revenge killing—continues to threaten lives at an alarming level," said James Reynolds, ICRC head of delegation in South Sudan.

Women and children reportedly remain particularly vulnerable; with about 10% of patients seen from October 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019 were children under the age of 15, while just over 10% were women.

"Stability will be key for South Sudanese to recover from years of conflict. Any form of violence again prevents them from a normal, peaceful life," said Reynolds.

"We will continue to deliver emergency assistance to communities affected by violence, but we hope to put more of our efforts into helping people recover and prosper, not just survive,” he added.

South Sudan marks eight years of independence Tuesday this week.

More than 50,000 families, ICRC said, have received seeds and tools from the ICRC since the beginning of the year, but those who left home for reasons of safety will not be able to harvest their crops.

Latest figures from the United Nations show that an estimated 1.9 million people are currently displaced in South Sudan, with 2.3 million people living as refugees in Ethiopia and Uganda.

(ST)