Around 30,000 internally displaced persons experienced another traumatic displacement when serious violence occurred last week in an established Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, South Sudan. The site was populated by almost 50.000 South Sudanese who had sought protection from the civil war.
The fighting broke out on February 17th and continued for almost two days with 22 people killed and more than 90 people injured.
Rickard Hartmann, DRC’s Country Director in South Sudan witnessed the violence: “While the facts are damning in themselves, I can’t forget the sight of people rushing towards the main gate, fleeing for their lives from what was supposed to be a place of sanctity. Holding whatever they managed to carry.”
Health facilities; tents and other infrastructure were looted, burnt down and completely destroyed – and civilians left their sectors and ran towards safer areas of the site.
“Danish Refugee Council is now providing emergency response together with other humanitarian organizations. We are about to start clearing debris and provide Communal Shelters to the people who lost their shelters”, says Rickard Hartmann.
Danish Refugee Council began responding to the overwhelming needs of the affected civilians only a few hours after the situation cooled down. The situation of the internally displaced persons has worsened by the loss of all their belongings during the violent clashes. But the situation is now stabilizing:
“Only a few days into the response we have made significant headway and basic needs have been catered for – and it is absolutely necessary since the level of destruction in the old site is so bad that it is currently unsuitable for human inhabitation,” says Rickard Hartmann.
DRC in South Sudan
DRC has been operational in South Sudan since 2005, working with the overall objective of providing durable solutions for refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Moreover DRC has been responsible for Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) in the Malakal POC site since its establishment in early 2014 – and also engages in shelter, Non Food Items and protection services.
DRC Protection team conducted door to door checks in the abandoned (intact) areas to check if any people were left behind in the affected areas. The team identified 8 vulnerable persons. Some were elderly ladies, blind and unable to walk, left in the chaos of the violence. Some had not been eating or drinking water for 3 days. The DRC team reunited the ladies with their families.
DRC Shelter Project Officer Umba Gabriel Aruba. During the assessment, Gabriel stopped the assessment in order to help people get water from a water point they were not allowed to use.