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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs