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South Sudan Crisis Worsening

Rations are stacked during a food distribution organized by Plan in Nimule, South Sudan.
Rations are stacked during a food distribution organized by Plan in Nimule, South Sudan.
February 20, 2014

Since mid-December, armed conflict has engulfed South Sudan, with clashes taking place between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and others backing his former deputy Riek Machar.

As of mid-February, approximately 738,000 people are displaced inside South Sudan, and another 130,400 people have fled to neighboring Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia. An estimated 84,000 people are sheltering in Mingkaman and the surrounding areas of Awerial County. They have transformed it from a small farming community into a chaotic, haphazard tent city.

In the midst of the chaos, Plan South Sudan is already responding to children and their communities’ needs in coordination with other agencies. The Plan team has now registered 13,000 malnourished children under 5 for targeted supplementary feeding in Awerial. In addition, sites have been identified to set up Child Friendly Spaces so children can have safe places to play and learn despite the turmoil that surrounds them.

In Yei County, Plan is focusing on water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance, repairing wells and building emergency latrines and bathing facilities for the displaced. Handwashing stations have been installed and hygiene awareness sessions are ongoing to help prevent the spread of disease. Blankets, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, soap, and other essential survival items were distributed to families who were unable to bring anything with them when they fled their homes.

Distribution of basic food items – such as sorghum, beans, vegetable oil, and salt – took place on February 5 in Nimule Payam in Eastern Equatoria State, benefiting almost 34,000 people, including more than 17,000 children.

While Plan and other humanitarian organizations are doing their best to respond to the crisis, of the nearly 800,000 women, men, and children needing assistance, only approximately 300,000 have been reached in 50 locations. In total, there are an estimated 107 sites with internally displaced people, and some 3.7 million people in the country are now at high risk of not having enough food to eat.

Many children are malnourished or dying. Abuot lost his daughter 15 days after arriving from Bor. He is digging a grave at the camp to bury his child.

“I had four children, but one of my daughters died this morning. We came when my child had malaria. She was vomiting and had diarrhea. We crossed the Nile on a boat and took her to the clinic here, but when we reached there, the doctor told us she was dead,” says Abuot.

Unni Krishnan, Plan International’s Head of Disaster Response and Preparedness, adds: “The UN’s declaration of the crisis as a Level Three emergency should serve as a wake-up call for donors and philanthropists worldwide to mobilize urgent support for South Sudan.”

“Donors need to be generous. The plight of children and others impacted by the conflict in South Sudan calls for their urgent attention.”

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