Norwegian delegation visits Jonglei State

25 Jan 2012

Norwegian delegation visits Jonglei State

24 January 2012 - To learn more about the situation on the ground in South Sudan's conflict-torn Jonglei State, a Norwegian delegation headed by the country's Deputy Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Torgeir Lasen, visited Pibor County today.

"Despite the news we heard, I'm here to see what happened and I'm happy that things are moving in the right direction," Deputy Minister Lasen said in an interview during the visit.

Speaking about conflicts involving cattle raiding, he appealed to government officials to introduce modern ways of identifying the animals to avert future thefts. There was a need to "mark cattle in modern ways" so that each tribe or individual's cattle had different brands.

Pibor County Commissioner Brigadier General Joshua Kony welcomed the delegation, expressing gratitude that the "cry of our people has reached you. As a result, you have come to see for yourself."

Government ministries are taking a lead in providing humanitarian aid, with the Ministry of Health coordinating the distribution of medical assistance to needy people.

The South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission has been coordinating the overall efforts of 16 humanitarian organizations, including the World Food Programme, which is distributing emergency food rations to 76,000 people.

Other organizations are providing health care, water and sanitation, and non-food items. "This is one of the most major operations ... the UN has been involved in since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement," said UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande, who was accompanying the Norwegian delegation.

Patients seeking help from Medecins sans Frontieres had risen dramatically since inter-communal violence engulfed the area in December 2011. "We have 200 consultations per day, compared to a previous 500 patients per week before the violence," said MSF Medical Field Coordinator Kael Jackson,

Many displaced and injured were still hiding in bushes living in bad conditions, often suffering from malaria, Mr. Jackson said

He added that his team had visited the Likaungole area to bring patients to Pibor who had survived gunshot wounds for last two to three weeks.

Patient Kedesh Kadadu, who survived for 18 days with gunshot wound in her back, expressed gratitude for the assistance. "Thank God, I have reached medical attention. I believe they will help the situation."