(Juba, 20 January 2012): United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Ms. Lise Grande, confirmed today that more than 120,000 people affected by the recent violence in Jonglei State may need emergency assistance.
“The violence in Jonglei hasn’t stopped,” Ms. Grande said. “Only two weeks ago we launched a massive emergency operation to help 60,000 people. As a result of recent attacks, we now estimate that double that number will need help.”
Fighting between Lou Nuer and Murle communities escalated sharply in late December, causing an estimated tens of thousands people to flee their homes in Pibor County and resulting in casualties, destruction of property and livelihoods. Subsequently, starting 28 December, retaliatory attacks were launched on communities in Akobo, Uror and Duk counties. The most recent attack took place on 16 January, when 80 people were reportedly killed and 300 houses burnt in Duk Padiet in Duk County, according to local authorities.
Humanitarian assistance is being provided in violence-affected areas and assessments are continuing. A humanitarian response and coordination hub has been established in Pibor town and 15 humanitarian organisations are present on the ground, working to repair water points and provide food, household items, emergency education, nutrition, protection and medical assistance. Assistance is also being provided in Gumuruk, Likuangole, Boma and Walgak, and other villages will receive aid soon.
The most recent spike in inter-communal violence has compounded an already difficult humanitarian situation in South Sudan. Before the crisis in Jonglei, partners were over-stretched, and are now supporting 30 simultaneous emergency operations. In 2011, more than 350,000 people were forced from their homes, significantly more than in 2010. Since mid-2011, tensions on the border with Sudan have also escalated, triggering fresh displacements. In May 2011, violence erupted in Abyei, displacing 110,000 people into Agok and South Sudan where they remain displaced.
In addition, ongoing conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan has caused approximately 80,000 people to flee into South Sudan since June 2011. Hundreds of new refugees continue to arrive every week.
Ms. Grande emphasized that “operations in South Sudan are some of the most difficult and expensive in the region due to the combination of poor infrastructure and limited accessibility. It’s a race against time every year to ensure that life-saving supplies are purchased and pre-positioned before the rains arrive. These attacks have occurred at the beginning of the dry season when stocks are at their lowest.”
“We are extremely concerned that humanitarian facilities, including health centres, are being targeted during attacks,” said Ms. Grande. “We call upon all parties to respect the neutrality of humanitarian partners.”
US$763 million is required for the Consolidated Appeal for South Sudan, covering 271 projects among 110 organisations. “It is essential that this year’s appeal is adequately resourced early in 2012 to ensure we meet our commitments to the people of South Sudan during the first critical year of statehood,” Ms. Grande stressed.