Humanitarian Chief visits conflict-affected people in Jonglei State, South Sudan
(Juba, South Sudan/New York, 2 February 2012): On the second day of her mission to South Sudan, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos travelled to Jonglei State, where over 140,000 people have been affected by a vicious upsurge in inter-communal violence. The ERC arrived in the state capital Bor, before travelling to Walgak and Pibor to assess the humanitarian situation of thousands of civilians suffering in the wake of the inter-communal violence.
In her meeting with Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk in Bor, the ERC discussed measures needed to protect civilians and prevent future violence through sustained community reconciliation. “We are here to help those who need it, no matter what community they are from. Our work is made considerably harder when humanitarian premises are targeted and supplies looted,” she said. “The Governor had placed strong emphasis on the need to protect civilians and humanitarian operations throughout the state, and this is welcome,” she added.
From Bor, the ERC travelled to Walgak, where agencies have identified almost 3,000 people in need of assistance following inter-communal clashes in the area. Continued insecurity, movement restrictions, and lack of operational partners on the ground have continued to slow down humanitarian response activities.
The final leg of the ERC’s mission was to Pibor, a coordination hub for the current emergency relief operation in the area, where Ms. Amos met the aid community and people affected by the inter-communal conflict. Some are from nearby Likuangole, a town that was burnt to the ground in the attacks.
“Some of the women I met have lost loved ones, their homes, cattle, and most of their personal belongings. People have been in the bush for several weeks, often without food or clean drinking water,” Ms. Amos said. “Many are highly traumatized and are not willing to return to their villages.”
With 17 aid agencies now on the ground in Pibor, the humanitarian response has picked up. Well over half of those affected have already received food, and work to provide clean water, health and nutritional care, and emergency supplies is ongoing.
The recent wave of violence is the latest in a series of large-scale clashes between the Lou Nuer and Murle that have taken place over the past years.
The most recent spike in inter-communal violence has compounded an already difficult humanitarian situation in South Sudan. “Before the crisis in Jonglei, humanitarian partners were already over-stretched, carrying out some 30 emergency operations across the country. In some of the worst-hit areas, there are only a handful partners on the ground,” Ms. Amos said. Heavy-airlift capacity and more relief workers on the ground are critical to the succes of this emergency operation, she added.
Tomorrow, Ms. Amos is scheduled to meet representatives from the Government and the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, to discuss how to respond to the range of humanitarian challenges in the country, for example the influx of more than 80,000 people fleeing fighting in Sudan’s border area, hundreds of thousands of returning South Sudanese who need support to establish their livelihoods, large groups of internally displaced people, widespread food insecurity and high levels of vulnerability among the population of South Sudan.
OCHA South Sudan
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