South Sudan Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 4 | 28 March 2016
• Humanitarians reach previously inaccessible areas of Western Equatoria.
• Needs escalate as fighting in Wau continues.
• International Women’s Day marked with calls to end child marriage and educate girls in South Sudan.
• Assistance reaches Wau Shilluk as restrictions are lifted.
Humanitarians reach previously inaccessible areas of Western Equatoria
Following clashes in the south of Mundri West County in mid-February 2016, humanitarian partners managed to deliver food in Bari on 27 February and an inter-agency humanitarian team travelled to Mundri Town, Kotobi, Gariya, Landigwa and Bangolo from 2 to 4 March to deliver life-saving assistance and assess the situation.
Fighting south of Mundri Town first erupted in May 2015, displacing thousands of people.
Renewed fighting in mid-February 2016 saw houses, crops, schools and health centres looted, damaged and destroyed. Kotobi, which has remained relatively stable throughout, is estimated to be hosting just under 8,000 people displaced from surrounding areas. Bangolo, Gariya and Landigwa are all also hosting IDPs from other areas, including Mundri Town, Maridi and Yambio. In Mundri town, an estimated 6,200 people who were displaced have returned, while thousands more are thought to still be hiding in the bushes in surrounding areas. Many people have been displaced multiple times, with women in Gariya telling the inter-agency team they have had to move over 10 times since May 2015.
All five locations assessed by the inter-agency team reported a decrease in food consumption as a result of loss of crops and food stocks. Many people had turned to negative coping mechanisms, such as reducing the number of meals eaten, borrowing food from neighbours, consuming more wild foods than normal, and restricting food consumption by adults.
At least three health facilities were damaged or looted during the fighting, leaving only Mundri Town and Kotobi with functioning facilities and available essential drugs. Water infrastructure was also badly affected during the fighting, with seven water points damaged or destroyed. In Bangolo, the community is now entirely dependent on untreated water fetched from streams. Many containers used to fetch water were looted or burnt, leaving an average of around 20 families to share one five-litre jerry can. As a result, some women have to fetch water from the borehole over 10 times per day.
In Mundri Town and Kotobi, the team was told of men and boys being exposed to threats of harassment and detention by armed actors, while women and girls reported being fearful of increased exposure to sexual violence when moving alone.
Across all of the locations visited, women highlighted the need for shelter, food and household items, such as utensils and sleeping mats. Displaced women whose homes had been looted and burnt were living and sleeping in the open, unable to create temporary shelters for themselves as the grass ordinarily used for such activities had been burnt.
Essential supplies distributed in Mundri West
During the mission, partners delivered emergency health kits to health facilities in Mundri Town, Bangolo and Gariya, and about 500 hygiene kits in Mundri Town. In Bangolo and Gariya, basic household items, including survival kits containing mosquito nets, kitchen utensils, water purification tablets and fishing kits, were distributed to more than 1,500 families. Following the assessment, humanitarian partners have returned to the area to provide assistance in health, shelter, and water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Needs increase in and around Wau
Violence has reportedly continued in the western and southern parts of Wau town and surrounding villages - including Mboro, Kayango, Ngondo, Ngonjeko, Natabu and Ngomba - in recent weeks, displacing tens of thousands of people.
In Mboro, about 8,000 internally displaced people (IDP) stranded since February and reportedly in need of urgent assistance were forced to flee when fighting escalated on 21 March. There are also unverified reports of around 10,000 to 12,000 IDPs further south in Suwe. In Natabu, homes were burnt and household items looted. In Ngonjeko, people who had already fled fighting in other areas were re-displaced during recent violence. There were reports of killings and rapes in Wau town and surrounding areas.
Food, water, shelter, basic household items and education for children were highlighted as urgent needs by people displaced to Wau town during a recent assessment. Partners are also concerned about a possible increase in malnutrition rates among children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
A woman who had sought refuge in Mboro and then fled to Wau said, “We survived on leaves and turmeric for salt and we also ate mangoes. All our belongings, including food, were looted back at home. We had no money even if there was a market,” she said, adding that women, children and the elderly were worst affected by diseases, including diarrhoea, urinary tract infections, skin diseases and malaria.
However, access outside of Wau town has been restricted. On 1, 10 and 11 March, humanitarian partners were turned back at the check point in Lokoloko and a mission planned for 17 March had to be cancelled due to rising insecurity.
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.