South Sudan Situation Report, 18 April 2019

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Almost half of displaced people intend to leave Malakal Protection of Civilians site
  • Measles outbreak confirmed in 11 counties in South Sudan, upsurge in cases globally
  • United Nations allocates $11 million to help displaced people return home
  • Food insecurity increases, humanitarians urge for scale-up of aid
  • Humanitarian access remained constrained in 2018, impacting aid to people in need

ANALYSIS

Almost half of displaced people intend to leave Malakal Protection of Civilians site

In April, IOM and UNHCR conducted a survey in the Malakal Protection of Civilians (PoC) site to establish displaced people’s intentions to return to their places of origin. The joint survey found that 44 per cent of displaced households intended to leave; one third of them within the next three months.

The main reasons for choosing to leave were improvements in security, better access to humanitarian services, and better economic and livelihood opportunities. Other factors influencing decisions were cultural ties, family reunification and access to housing.

Of those intending to leave, some 43 per cent indicated owning land or a house where they will seek shelter and 37 per cent intended to stay with friends or family. Some 14 per cent intend to seek accommodation provided by humanitarian service providers, and others indicated renting or relying on the local community for shelter.

Most people intended to return or relocate to areas within Malakal town, where land and property rights remain a key concern. Many people have lost documents to prove their land and property ownership during the conflict.

Yet, many people did not feel safe returning to their homes because of the destruction during the conflict, illegal occupation of their properties and a high presence of soldiers in some areas.

One Shilluk woman in the PoC site said: “I would love to go back to my village but currently things are not like before the crisis at my home area. My shelter was destroyed. For now, I will see how the peace develops before making a final decision of going back.”

Prior to the 2013 conflict, Malakal town was considered the second largest city in country with an estimated population of about 126,000 people according to the results of 2008 census. The conflict forced most of the town’s population to flee with some seeking shelter in the UNMISS PoC in Malakal town.

The Malakal PoC site population peaked at just under 48,000 individuals in August 2015 and has since dropped to some 29,190 people as per the population head count conducted by humanitarians at the end of April. Nearly 52 per cent of the people currently sheltering in the PoC site are women who face risks of violence daily. Women and girls who must leave the camp in search of firewood are particularly at risk.

FEATURE

Measles cases by age in 2019 Measles cases by age in 2019 Measles outbreak confirmed in 11 counties in South Sudan, upsurge in cases globally

Since the beginning of 2019, measles outbreaks have been confirmed in 11 counties and 3 Protection of Civilians sites (Juba, Bentiu and Malakal), which is almost 6 times the number of cases for all of 2018.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in April that there has been a 300 per cent increase in reported measles cases worldwide in the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year.

In South Sudan, cumulatively, a total of 937 suspected cases, including 7 deaths, have been reported in 2019.

Low routine immunization coverage at 59 per cent, well below the desired threshold of 90 to 95 per cent, was reported as the main underlying cause of the multiple outbreaks. The low coverage was, in turn, attributed to low access to basic healthcare, estimated at 44 per cent, and insecurity affecting health facilities.

“Measles is a highly contagious disease currently causing a global crisis, and concerted efforts are needed to improve routine immunization delivery so that all children are protected from vaccine preventable diseases,” said Dr. Olu Olushayo, WHO Representative for South Sudan.

The Ministry of Health, with support from humanitarian organizations, has launched several reactive measles campaigns to immunize children in affected locations.

Since the outbreak was declared in the country in January, campaigns have been conducted in Juba, Central Equatoria; Pibor in Jonglei; Aweil South in Northern Bahr el Ghazal; Mayom in Unity; Melut in Upper Nile; and Gogrial West and Gogrial East in Warrap. More are planned for Aweil West and Aweil Center in Northern Bahr el Ghazal; and Tonj North in Warrap. Nearly 311,000 children aged between 6 months and 15 years have been vaccinated in the areas which have been reached.

A countrywide follow-up mass measles campaign targeting children aged 9-59 months is planned for November 2019, for all children who have remained unvaccinated since a 2017 campaign.

Other response activities include coordinating surveillance and laboratory investigation of suspect cases and community mobilization.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.