Top UN humanitarian assesses effect of violence in Jonglei

3 Feb 2012

Top UN humanitarian assesses effect of violence in Jonglei

2 February 2012 - To assess the humanitarian situation of over 140,000 civilians who have been affected by inter-communal violence in South Sudan's Jonglei State, the UN's humanitarian chief visited the area today.

Meeting with State Governor Kuol Manyang in the Capital Bor, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) Valerie Amos discussed measures needed to protect civilians and prevent future violence through sustained community reconciliation.

"We are here to help those who need it, no matter what community they are from," said the ERC, who was accompanied by UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande and South Sudanese Minister of Humanitarian Affairs Lual Acuil. "Our work is made considerably harder when humanitarian premises are targeted and supplies looted.

"The recent wave of violence is the latest in a series of large-scale clashes between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities that have taken place over the past few years.

"I gave them [UN] the information they need on where the crises are," said Governor Juuk. Minister Acuil urged the two communities to cease hostilities.

"The Governor has placed strong emphasis on the need to protect civilians and humanitarian operations throughout the state, and this is welcome," Ms. Amos said.

From Bor, the ERC travelled to Akobo County, where agencies have identified almost 3,000 people in need of assistance following inter-communal clashes in the area, and Pibor County, which is a coordination hub for the current emergency relief operation.

In Pibor, Ms. Amos met the aid community and people affected by inter-communal conflict. "People have been in the bush for several weeks, often without food or clean drinking water," she said. "Many are highly traumatized and are not willing to return to their villages."

With 17 aid agencies now on the ground in Pibor, the humanitarian response has picked up. Well over half of those affected have already received food, and work to provide clean water, health, nutritional care and emergency supplies is ongoing.

But heavy-airlift capacity and more relief workers on the ground are critical to the success of this emergency operation, the ERC said.