UNHCR’s second largest donor visits the refugee operation in Upper Nile

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JUBA, South Sudan – 30 August (UNHCR) – Japan’s Ambassador to South Sudan, Kiya Masahiko, wrapped up a one-day visit to Upper Nile’s Maban County on Thursday to show solidarity with the refugees and appreciate the impact of Japan’s aid contribution on refugees’ living conditions. He was accompanied by UNHCR Country Representative, Ahmed Warsame, and a delegation of local authorities and partner organizations.

During his field trip, Ambassador Kiya visited some of the projects funded by the government and people of Japan in Doro camp, including classrooms at the Nur primary school, a solar-power borehole and the mud-plastered transitional shelters for vulnerable refugees. “With a zinc roof over my head, I don’t have to worry anymore about the rain”, says 28-year-old Susan from Sudan. She is one of 5,000 refugees who were relocated from low-lying water-prone areas to higher ground within Doro and given a transitional shelter. “There is more space here for my children and I feel I have now a proper home”, says Susan.

The Ambassador paid a visit to Maban County Hospital, which UNHCR has equipped with a X-ray room, two operating theatres, three paediatric wards and a pharmacy over the last two years thanks to multi-donor funding, including Japan. This hospital serves more than 200,000 people from the refugee and host communities and remains the only functioning hospital in the entirety of Upper Nile State since the start of the conflict in December 2013.

UNHCR’s second largest donor globally, Japan has contributed more than $16 million since 2014 to support UNHCR’s efforts to protect and assist refugees and extend a helping hand to host communities in South Sudan.

“Japan’s support has been key in improving the living conditions of tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees who have found shelter in camps in Upper Nile and Unity states as well as many South Sudanese living within and around Maban camps,” says Warsame. “We were able to build better shelters for families and ensure higher standards in health, water, sanitation and education.”

Before returning to Juba, Japan’s Ambassador had also the opportunity to meet with the refugee leaders to hear the concerns of their community. Access to higher education, health care, food and shelters remain top priorities for the refugees as do Internet connectivity for education and access to labor-saving modern farm technologies like tractors to increase agricultural production.

 “Resources are limited, but we are committed to continue our support for refugees and host communities in South Sudan,” says Ambassador Kiya. “It is important that the contribution of the people of Japan reaches the most needy refugees and makes substantive improvements in their livelihoods.” By assisting refugees and their South Sudanese hosts, he says, “my country wants to promote peaceful coexistence among communities and help South Sudan better cope with large numbers of refugees.”

In South Sudan, there are currently some 265,000 refugees. Nearly 90 per cent are from Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Niles states and live in six camps across the northern states of Unity and Upper Nile. The remaining 10 per cent are refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Ethiopia who live mostly in Central and Western Equatoria. In coordination with the Government of South Sudan and partners, UNHCR assists and protects refugees and is also part of the multi-agency response to internally displaced South Sudanese, as lead of the Protection Cluster.

Aid Agencies managed to reach Wau Shilluk

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JUBA, 26 August 2015: Despite intense insecurity in South Sudans Upper Nile State, UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) have managed to get urgently needed food and nutrition assistance to tens of thousands of people who had been cut off from relief agencies for months.

 WFP and UNICEF have deployed a mobile emergency relief team to assist more than 27,000 people in Wau Shilluk, on the west bank of the Nile River, across from the state capital of Malakal. It was the first time the agencies have been able to reach people in Wau Shilluk since March. The team finished the final food distributions on Monday.

 In the past several months, access problems and concerns for staff safety have prevented humanitarian agencies from reaching people living in Wau Shilluk and other areas of rural Upper Nile. Many agencies have been forced to scale down their operations on the west bank of the Nile because of insecurity.

 With little or no services available, children are going without nourishing food and healthcare in these villages, said Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan. It is a desperate situation, he added during a visit to Wau Shilluk.

 Tens of thousands of people have fled remote areas in recent months to reach the Malakal United Nations Protection of Civilians (POC) site, seeking not just safety but humanitarian assistance.

 Our mobile teams provide a critical lifeline into conflict-affected areas, said Hakan Falkell, the WFP Deputy Country Director in South Sudan. Most internally displaced people have found refuge among host communities, and it is essential to reach them where they are so they are not exposed to further danger during the journey to access lifesaving assistance.

 In Wau Shilluk, WFP provided food assistance to more than 20,000 people. UNICEF screened more than 3,000 children under the age of 5 for malnutrition, vaccinated more than 8,000 children under the age of 15 against measles, and vaccinated more than 7,800 against polio. More than 400 pregnant women were vaccinated against tetanus.

 Since WFP and UNICEF, with NGO partners, began deploying the joint teams known as Rapid Response Missions more than a year ago, the teams have reached more than 1.3 million people, including 220,000 children under the age of 5, in the most hard-to-reach areas of the country.

 However, it is imperative that the parties to the conflict cease hostilities and give aid agencies more consistent access to people in need in these remote areas.

 “We could see that people are struggling; there were only some fish and a few tomatoes for sale in the market, and almost nobody had the means to buy them, said Valerie Guarnieri, the WFP Regional Director for East and Central Africa during a visit to Wau Shilluk. We need a stronger presence by humanitarian organizations in places like Wau Shilluk to provide immediate food and nutrition support and to reopen schools, ensure health services and support agricultural production.”

 Fear of violence along with the absence of assistance in places like Wau Shilluk have triggered a mass influx into the Malakal POC site. This month alone nearly 11,000 people have arrived. Three-quarters of the new arrivals are children. The sites population is likely to hit 50,000 within days, but was designed to accommodate just 18,000 people.

 At this rate of expansion, the situation inside Malakal POC will get out of control, and we wont be able to provide sufficient services and resources to children who have been through hell to get to a place of safety, said Veitch.

 

Since fighting broke out in December 2013, more than two million people have been uprooted from their homes, and 4.6 million people face severe food insecurity.

 

USAID announces additional $6 million funds in South Sudan

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 PIBOR, South Sudan—The U.S. government today announced an additional $6 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to UNICEF to provide education to children and youth affected by conflict. The additional contribution brings USAID’s total grant to UNICEF for emergency education in South Sudan over two years to $23.5 million.

These funds will enable UNICEF to increase the number of children and youth who will be reached with emergency education services through USAID support to 200,000. Demobilized child soldiers and other out-of-school children in the Pibor area will now benefit from this initiative.

Pibor is one of the least developed areas of South Sudan. Conflict has forced out-of-school girls into early marriage, while boys as young as 14 joined or were conscripted into armed groups. In January, the Cobra Faction armed group began releasing children from its ranks. A total of 1,757 children have been released in the Pibor area; 145 of these children have started attending classes at the Pibor Primary School.

The United States is one of the largest donors to UNICEF’s Education in Emergencies program and has long provided support for education in South Sudan.

“USAID has been supporting education in South Sudan since the liberation struggle,” said U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Molly Phee. “Educating the next generation is the foundation of a peaceful and prosperous future for any country. But for decades, the children of South Sudan have had to forfeit the opportunity to learn to read and write because of warfare.”

“When the current conflict erupted, we were determined to help ensure that this generation of children does not suffer because of the failure of their leaders. So we worked with UNICEF and other donors to bring education to the children, reaching them at UN compounds and other locations where they are sheltering,” added Ambassador Phee.

In addition to providing education for children and youth affected by conflict, USAID is also working to increase overall access to safe and quality education for children and youth throughout South Sudan. 

 

 

Medical situation in UN Protection of Civilians camp in Malaka risk deteriorating as IDP number Increases: MSF

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MSF medical teams are witnessing dramatic increases in patients seeking treatment for common diseases caused by lack of shelter and sanitation in the United Nations Protection of Civilians (PoC) camp in Malakal, South Sudan, following an influx of more than 19,000 displaced persons in July. The total population seeking protection in the camp now exceeds 48,000 residents, stretching existing humanitarian resources to the limit.

“Many people arriving in the Malakal camp have been displaced for weeks or months already with extremely limited access to food and medical care,” says Victor Escobar, MSF project Coordinator in Malakal. “These already-vulnerable people urgently need a sanitary space to live and access to medical care. Otherwise, their health will continue to suffer.”

Already, there are signs of a severely worsening health situation as the number of patients seen by MSF in its projects inside the Malakal PoC have doubled or tripled for some diseases since June.  This can only partially be explained by the increase of the population, since our medical teams are observing a significant increase in the incidence of several common diseases.  The number of patients arriving weekly with diarrhoea has more than doubled since June, while the number of patients treated for respiratory tract infections has increased by 80 per cent from June to July. Similarly, MSF observed that the number of malaria cases par week has almost tripled if compared to June.

“These are extremely concerning trends. The vast majority of our patients are new arrivals, mostly women and children, who have endured a difficult and dangerous journey to reach the camp,” says Escobar. “They arrive in family groups of five to ten, with only what they can carry in their hands. Now, with the rapid influx of people into the camp, many have no choice but to sleep in streets, pathways and puddles.”

MSF has begun distributing plastic sheeting and mosquito nets as a temporary, emergency measure but access to appropriate additional living space must be improved to prevent further deterioration of the health situation. The medical risks confronted by new arrivals living in unsanitary conditions are exacerbated by the rainy season, which significantly increases the risk of disease outbreaks.

Since the latest upsurge of the conflict in Upper Nile State this year, tens of thousands of people have become highly dependent on humanitarian assistance for their survival.  Many of the people in the Malakal PoC are arriving from Wau Shilluk, where tens of thousands of people are living with severely limited access to food or medical assistance.

MSF runs an emergency room, in-patient field hospital and medical triage centre inside the Malakal PoC. MSF’s medical bed capacity was expanded from 40 to 60 beds last month but its facilities have nonetheless been operating at full capacity almost continuously since early July. The number of MSF medical consultations in the PoC increased from about 250 per week in June to over 400 per week at presen