Business, Finance & Economics

Oxfam withdraws staff from South Sudan border


A soldier of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) inspects an unused RPG missile in the ruins of a bombed-out building in the southern town of Rumbek on Jan. 21, 2005.


Simon Maina

The British humanitarian agency Oxfam has withdrawn its staff from the border of Sudan and South Sudan because of growing violence in the area, according to Reuters.

Violence has surged along the tense border since Juba seceded in July under a 2005 peace deal aimed at ending a decades long civil war.

“New bombing raids and a buildup of troops along the border of Sudan and South Sudan over the past few days threaten to escalate what is already a significant humanitarian crisis in the newest country in the world,” Oxfam said in a statement, according to The New York Times.

The group had been providing clean water to 64,000 people in the area, and the agency said it had noticed a build-up of South Sudan troops near the border. Reuters reported that tens of thousands of people have fled into South Sudan this year because of fighting.

The Khartoum government in Sudan was criticized last week by South Sudan, the United States and the United Nations for bombing sites in South Sudan, including a refugee camp. Sudan believes South Sudan is arming rebels in the border states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, The New York Times reported.

According to Voice of America, four major Sudanese rebel groups — the Justice and Equality Movement, the two branches of the Sudan Liberation Army and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North — have joined together to topple the government in Sudan.  The group calls itself the Sudan Revolutionary Front.

The attacks and increased tension along the new border have some afraid that the conflict could widen into another civil war.

According to BBC, Oxfam spokesperson Alan McDonald said: "Fortunately none of our staff were injured or caught up in the actual violence but the increased insecurity and the increased military presence over the past few days just means that we have to suspend some of our operations because the area is becoming more and more unsafe."

According to Oxfam’s website, humanitarian workers in the country are focused on “providing water and sanitation, supporting livelihoods, and responding to humanitarian emergencies.”  Other aid groups continue to operate in the area.

More from GlobalPost: Oxfam: Food prices to double by 2030