South Sudan: More aid needed for 70,000 people living in ‘catastrophic’ conditions
Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have arrived in Awerial, in Lakes state, after fleeing violence in Bor, says Médecins Sans Frontières. With thousands more people arriving each day, living conditions are verging on the catastrophic and there is an urgent need for increased medical and humanitarian assistance.
Following intense fighting last week between government and rebel troops in Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, more than 70,000 people, mostly women and children, fled the city to gather around the town of Awerial on the far side of the river Nile, some 50 km from Bor.
“The situation for these women and children is very alarming,” says Aurélie Dupont, Médecins Sans Frontières’ emergency coordinator in Awerial. “They have fled their homes and have arrived here with few belongings. There is no clean water, no food, and no place to shelter or sleep. They are relying solely on the help of the local population.”
Médecins Sans Frontières’ emergency team is supporting the two Ministry of Health clinics that are still running by providing consultations and supplies of medicines. Other main priorities for Médecins Sans Frontières include providing clean drinking water to prevent cases of diarrhoea, vaccinating children against measles and providing obstetric care for pregnant women. Another major concern is the provision of food, which needs to be scaled up urgently.
“The potential for disease is enormous,” says David Nash, Médecins Sans Frontières’ head of mission in South Sudan, “and yet the humanitarian response in Lakes state has been very small. There is an urgent need for clean water, latrines and waste management. We urgently need other organisations to step up and provide humanitarian aid as more and more people flee the violence.”
Emergency teams are being deployed to reinforce Médecins Sans Frontières’ existing activities and to respond to needs as they arise. Médecins Sans Frontières’ medical activities continue to operate in all 12 of its programmes across the country.
Médecins Sans Frontières has been working in region that today constitutes the Republic of South Sudan since 1983. Médecins Sans Frontières works in eight of South Sudan’s ten states and responds to emergency situations including large-scale displacement, refugee influxes, alarming nutrition situations and outbreaks of disease, in addition to providing basic and specialist healthcare services.