(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, who are operating the Don Bosco Gumbo camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Juba, South Sudan, have access to food, hygiene products and other items to help care for the well-being of those in the camp. The camp is home to 9,742 people, the majority women and children with no husbands or fathers, the elderly, and orphans. The camp was established in January 2014 after the outbreak of civil war in December 2013.
During the escalation of violence in South Sudan, St. Vincent de Paul Parish welcomed fleeing families and offered them a place to settle. Throughout the past six years, Salesian missionaries have been accommodating, feeding, educating, and offering medical treatment to the sick and vulnerable in the camp and across the Gumbo host community. A camp manager and supervisor were trained to provide management and oversight of the IDP camp.
The spread of COVID-19 in South Sudan has made the situation in the camp more difficult. The virus is happening during the lean season in the country when food insecurity is always at its worst. A swarm of locusts was also observed in several locations in Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria State, posing further threats to food security and livelihoods. The humanitarian situation in the country is predicted to worsen in the coming months as a result of COVID-19, the desert locust invasion and continued inter-communal violence.
With funding from Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Salesian missionaries at the camp were able to provide food aid rations for 275 internally displaced families. Each person received 10 kg of ground flour, 1 kg of salt, 1 liter of cooking oil and 5 kgs of beans per month. Missionaries were also able to distribute plastic roofing sheets, blankets, floor mats, soap and sanitary plastic jugs to 275 of the most vulnerable households.
“We are appreciative of our donors who help us ensure Salesian missionaries at Don Bosco Gumbo who are caring for the most vulnerable have the food and supplies they need,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “Salesian missionaries were also able to distribute soap and establish hand-washing stations throughout the camp and conduct temperature reading at camp entrances, as well as carry out a weekly sensitization program to prevent coronavirus from spreading.”
South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011 but has faced an ongoing civil war that started in December 2013 and resulted in a dire humanitarian crisis even before the coronavirus pandemic. Responding to the civil strife is nothing new to Salesian missionaries in South Sudan, who are dedicated to the programs and services they are providing across the country.
South Sudan is expansive and largely rural with 83 percent of the population residing in rural areas. Poverty is endemic with at least 80 percent of the population defined as income-poor and living on the equivalent of less than $1 per day, according to the World Bank. More than one-third of the population lacks secure access to food.