Number of displaced rising as fighting continues in South Sudan

27 Dec 2013

Number of displaced rising as fighting continues in South Sudan

27 December 2013 - The number of people reported displaced by the current crisis in South Sudan has risen to 121,600, including 63,000 sheltering in UN peacekeeping bases, according to a UN report issued today.

So far, 6,800 people of an estimated 25,000 people displaced in Juba have been registered and over 4,200 families have received food, the report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs states, citing figures as of 26 December.

“Priorities for the response to the displaced are food, healthcare, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene services, protection and camp management,” says the report. “Additional air assets and transport support are needed to enable the response.”

The report notes that aid agencies will need US$166 million to respond to immediate needs caused by crisis until March 2014.

On 24 to 26 December, the security situation deteriorated amidst heavy fighting in Jonglei and Upper Nile states. On 24 December, the government reported that it had regained control of Bor, Jonglei State.

“Since then, there has reportedly been no fighting in the town itself, though clashes continue in the surrounding areas,” according to the report.

Heavy fighting was reported throughout the day on 26 December in Malakal, Upper Nile State, while Juba remained calm but tense.

“A top priority for humanitarian agencies is to re-enter areas currently inaccessible due to insecurity, and gather more information about needs of people displaced outside main population centres,” the report says.

Though the number of people killed in the clashes is unknown, thousands are likely to have lost their lives since the crisis started.

On movements outside the country, the UN Refugee Agency reports that just over 100 people have crossed into Kenya, some 1,540 into Uganda and 290 into Sudan. A reported 3,100 have crossed the border to Ethiopia, but it is unclear if this is related to the current crisis.

At the two UN peacekeeping bases in the capital Juba, clinics are providing primary healthcare to the displaced, water and sanitation has improved, and distributions of food and household items are ongoing.

The main concern remains sanitation as well as hygiene and the risk of disease outbreaks, such as cholera. “All actors are fully focused on minimizing this risk, by improving the public health situation,” the report states.

After all aid workers were evacuated from Bor on 23 December, a team of UNMISS and UN agency staff returned on 26 December to assess the humanitarian situation for civilians in the peacekeeping base.

“The living conditions for the around 15,000 people living on the base are very challenging, especially in terms of health and water and sanitation,” states the report. “There are few latrines within the site, and limited access to clean water. There are also urgent needs for food and shelter supplies.”

In Bentiu, Unity State, some 8,000 people, from several communities are sheltering inside the UN base. “Public health is the main concern, with three cases of measles reported, and top priorities for response are health supplies and blankets to protect people from the cold during night.”

Upper Nile State was the focus of clashes on 26 December. Some 12,000 people are sheltering in the UN peacekeeping base, and several civilians inside the base were injured by stray bullets during clashes.