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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora