from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 27 May 2010
(New York/Wau, 27 May 2010): On the first full day of his four-day visit to Sudan, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes travelled to Southern Sudan, where rising concerns over food insecurity, displacements and inter-tribal violence threaten an already vulnerable population.

Visiting Warrap state after a stopover in the town of Wau, in Western Bahr el-Ghazal state, Mr. Holmes had an opportunity to review programmes that provide food, nutrition, health care and education. He also met local authorities, tribal leaders and elders to discuss urgent humanitarian needs and the security of the civilian population.

Along with Jonglei state (where the World Food Programme was forced to evacuate ten staff members due to rising security concerns earlier this week), Warrap is one of the two states in Southern Sudan most heavily affected by inter-tribal fighting. Local reports indicate such attacks have become more organized and more violent, with greater use of automatic weapons. Earlier this month, more than 30 civilians were killed and nearly 6,000 displaced due to tribal violence.

"The increasing level of violence is alarming," Mr. Holmes said. "Not only is it disproportionately effecting women and children, it is also occurring in areas that are suffering lack of food and malnutrition, and where humanitarian agencies cannot reach. This is a recipe for disaster," he added.

At a nutrition centre operated by the non-government organization (NGO) World Vision International, with support from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Mr. Holmes spoke with staff members and beneficiaries. An estimated one-quarter of the population of Warrap state suffers from acute malnutrition, compared to an overall average of 15 percent for all of Southern Sudan. Food insecurity rates have trebled since 2009.

"We know the situation in Southern Sudan is poised to become more desperate over the coming months," Mr. Holmes said. "The humanitarian community must gear up to respond to the needs from forced displacement and the deteriorating food security situation, working closely with the Government of Southern Sudan."

Tomorrow, he will visit Wau town and then travel to Juba, the Southern Sudan capital, to meet with Government officials and representatives of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations working in Southern Sudan. This is Mr. Holmes' fifth mission to Sudan.

For further information, please call: OCHA-Sudan: Dawn Elizabeth Blalock +249 912 140 574, blalock@un.org or Samuel Hendricks +249 912 174 417, Hendricks@un.org

OCHA-New York: Stephanie Bunker, +1 347 244 2106, mobile +1 347 244 2106, bunker@un.org; Nicholas Reader +1 212 963 4961, mobile +1 646 752 3117, reader@un.org

OCHA-Geneva: Elisabeth Byrs,+41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570, byrs@un.org.

OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or www.reliefweb.int.

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