News / Africa

    More Than 825,000 Displaced by South Sudan Crisis, UN Official Says

    • U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos tours the compound of an aid agency in Malakal that was looted in recent fighting in the South Sudan town.
    • Empty tins litter the ground at the looted compound of an aid agency in Malakal, South Sudan.
    • The city of Malakal sits on the bank of the White Nile River, South Sudan.
    • A woman and her children sit in their makeshift shelter at the U.N. compound in Malakal, where some 26,000 have sought shelter.
    • Women carry the body of a civilian killed in the center of Malakal, Upper Nile State in South Sudan, Jan. 21, 2014.
    • A young woman runs through the street as gunshots ring out a few streets over, in Malakal, Upper Nile State, in South Sudan.
    • Displaced South Sudanese in makeshift shelters in the town of Malakal, where UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos visited on Jan. 28, 2014.
    UN Humanitarian Chief Visits South Sudan
    Andrew Green
    More than 825,000 people have been displaced by violence in South Sudan, U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said Thursday, warning that an already dire humanitarian situation in the young country s likely to get worse until people are convinced it is safe to go back to the homes they fled during nearly six weeks of unrest.

    "More than 702,000 people have been displaced by the conflict across the country, and another 123,000 have fled into neighboring countries," Amos told reporters Wednesday as she wrapped up a three-day visit to South Sudan that has taken her to hot-spots in the fighting, including the oil town of Malakal and the capital, Juba, where the conflict erupted on Dec. 15.

    In Malakal, Amos said she "saw people in dire circumstances: short of food, living in conditions with poor sanitation and very little water."

    A woman and her children sit in their makeshift shelter at the U.N. compound in Malakal, where some 26,000 have sought shelter.A woman and her children sit in their makeshift shelter at the U.N. compound in Malakal, where some 26,000 have sought shelter.
    x
    A woman and her children sit in their makeshift shelter at the U.N. compound in Malakal, where some 26,000 have sought shelter.
    A woman and her children sit in their makeshift shelter at the U.N. compound in Malakal, where some 26,000 have sought shelter.

    "I met women who had walked for days to seek protection and assistance; children who had been separated from their parents as they fled; and people who said they had been targeted and abused because of their ethnicity or political affiliation," she added.

    Amos praised humanitarian agencies that that remained in South Sudan and continued to deliver aid even as fighting raged.

    "While this has saved many lives, we have not been able to provide assistance to many others due to the continuing insecurity," she said.

    Aid workers have been able to reach more than 300,000 displaced people, which is fewer than half of those internally displaced in South Sudan.

    'Tens of thousands' need aid in Malakal


    In Malakal, Amos said, "tens of thousands" need assistance but many aid agencies have halted work in the town because of the violence, which has directly targeted humanitarian workers and organizations.

    International medical aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) suspended activities in Malakal last week after its compound was looted by armed men and its staff threatened. 

    Amos said she saw World Food Programme (WFP), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNICEF warehouses in Malakal that had been ransacked by looters.

    Empty tins litter the ground at the looted compound of an aid agency in Malakal, South Sudan.Empty tins litter the ground at the looted compound of an aid agency in Malakal, South Sudan.
    x
    Empty tins litter the ground at the looted compound of an aid agency in Malakal, South Sudan.
    Empty tins litter the ground at the looted compound of an aid agency in Malakal, South Sudan.
    Acts of violence against aid workers have also affected their ability to deliver assistance to needy South Sudanese, some 3.7 million of whom are "severely food insecure," Amos said.

    But, she added that she was "encouraged" by the agreement to cease hostilities that was signed last week in Ethiopia.

    "I hope the agreement will lead to an environment where people will feel able to return to their homes and rebuild their lives," she said.

    Few of the displaced in South Sudan are willing to do that now.

    Of the 702,000 internally displaced South Sudanese, some 79,000 are sheltering at eight bases of the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Nearly a third of them -- around 26,000 -- have sought refuge at the U.N. compound in Malakal.

    Others have sought shelter from the fighting anywhere they can find it, including places of worship and Malakal Teaching Hospital, where Yusuf Anur fled more than two weeks ago.

    Lucky to get one meal a day


    "Right now, we are living here. We are suffering..." Anur told VOA News, adding that he sleeps in the open and is lucky to get one meal a day.

    In spite of the difficult conditions at the hospital, where clean water is also in short supply, Anur says he has no plans to return to his home because he in not convinced the fighting has ended.

    Sixteen-year-old Sebit John Jok is camping on the grounds of St. Joseph’s cathedral near the center of Malakal., where people don't even feel safe enough to go out and bury those killed in the fighting, he said.

    "Maybe, if they pick up all the dead people in there, I will go there to my house," he told VOA.

    But if he did return home, he would be all alone, he said.
    I met women who had walked for days to seek protection and assistance; children who had been separated from their parents as they fled...

    "All the neighbors, they’re gone. There is nobody in the house there,” the teen said.

    The U.N. says more than 64,000 people in Malakal County were displaced in two waves of fighting as pro- and anti-government forces battled for control of the capital of oil-rich Upper Nile state.

    Government forces regained control of Malakal town last week. But the head of the IOM office in the town, Donavan Naidoo, said that in spite of the signing of the cessation of hostilities agreement, he expects more people to seek refuge at the U.N. base in Malakal.

    "They do not feel safe at night. They feel that UNMISS will be providing the best security for them,” he said, noting that there are still reports of gunfire around the town.

    Cramped conditions pose health hazard


    Meanwhile, Amos warned that crowded conditions at the sites where the displaced have gathered could pose a serious health hazard.

    “There’s a potential health hazard in these informal camps that have now sprung up. Way too many people, not enough water,  not enough food,” she said.

    Naidoo said officials are particularly concerned by the possible spread of cholera and hepatitis E, both of which are  associated with contaminated water supply.

    But aid agencies are unable to take steps to try to avert outbreaks in battle-torn South Sudan, he said.
    There’s a potential health hazard in these informal camps that have now sprung up. Way too many people, not enough water, not enough food.

    “At the moment, with the space issue… we don’t have adequate space to build further sanitation facilities. And that creates a health concern, not only for the IDPs, but for the base itself,” Naidoo said.

    A response plan for the South Sudan crisis, released last month by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), called for $209 million to meet the most immediate needs of the country, including camp management, food, health, shelter, protection, water, sanitation and hygiene. Aid agencies have secured around $109 million of the immediate requirements for the emergency response, OCHA said.

    You May Like

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.