WAU, South Sudan, 2 July 2016 – UNICEF is launching today an urgent measles immunization campaign to protect 13,000 children displaced by fighting in the city of Wau, South Sudan.
The three-day campaign is focused on children aged six months to 14 years who have been living in makeshift settlements in the city since the conflict erupted last Friday. In such overcrowded sites, health risks for communities increase considerably.
Nearly 30,000 people who fled violence have taken shelter in Wau’s temporary sites. At least 30,000 living outside of the city have also fled their homes.
“Measles spreads rapidly and one case can very quickly become an outbreak,” said Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan. “It’s crucial that children living in these crowded conditions are protected from what can be a life-threatening disease.”
In Wau town, UNICEF and partners are working in the displacement sites to reunite children who were separated from their families while running from the fighting. Children are being provided with primary health care and treatment for malnutrition.
Safe water supplies and latrines have also been installed to minimize the spread of disease, while child-friendly spaces have been created so that even in the midst of upheaval children are able to play and learn.
In addition to the support in Wau, teams from UNICEF and partner agencies reached on Friday the remote village of Mboro, to the south, which until recently had been inaccessible due to insecurity. More than 2,000 people were given access to health care and 500 children were screened for malnutrition. Those diagnosed as malnourished received therapeutic food supplements.
Residents said they were living in the bush without shelter for fear of further violence. They said they were surviving on whatever food they could forage.
Given the high insecurity in Wau, UNICEF is particularly concerned about the well-being of displaced women and girls in and around the temporary sites. Conflict and population movements traditionally hit women and girls the hardest, as they become exposed to sexual violence and exploitation.
“When conflict and violence hit communities and people are forced to flee, support networks become weaker and the first to feel the impact are the most vulnerable,” said Mdoe. ”UNICEF is working around the clock with partners on the ground to ensure that medical and support services are available and that safe spaces are created so that women and girls can speak freely and seek help if they need it.”
UNICEF’s funding requirement for the Wau response is US$3 million of which just half is available.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact: Tim Irwin, UNICEF South Sudan, Tel: +211 912 162 888, email@example.com