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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid