Urgent aid reaches thousands cut off in South Sudan

Urgent aid reaches thousands cut off in South Sudan
UN emergency relief teams have reached more than 27,000 people in South Sudan's Upper Nile State, where aid had been cut off for months due to the ongoing fighting.
2 min read
28 August, 2015
More than two million have been displaced in South Sudan by the fighting [Anadolu]

Emergency relief teams in South Sudan have reached a town that has been cut off since March by insecurity and fighting.

The UN teams had previously been unable to reach Wau Shiluk and other parts of the Upper Nile State because of access problems and concerns for staff safety, the UN Children's Fund, Unicef, said in a joint press release with the UN World Food Programme, WFP.

"We could see that people are struggling; there were only some fish and a few tomatoes for sale in the market, and almost nobody had the means to buy them,” said Valerie Guarnieri, WFP Regional Director for East and Central Africa, describing the scene on reaching the town.

The lack of services means that many children are going without nourishing food and healthcare, reported Jonathan Veitch, Unicef's representative in South Sudan.

"It is a desperate situation," Veitch said.

During the visit to Wau Shiluk the teams helped more than 27,000 people.

WFP gave food assistance to more than 20,000 people. Unicef screened more than 3,000 children under the age of 5 for malnutrition, vaccinated more than 8,000 children under the age of 15 against measles, and vaccinated more than 7,800 against polio.

More than 400 pregnant women were vaccinated against tetanus.

Fighting in South Sudan that started in December 2013 has displaced more than two million people and left 4.6 million facing severe food insecurity.

For over a year, rapid response missions deployed by WFP and Unicef and their partners have reached more than 1.3 million people in difficult to reach parts of the country, including 220,000 children under five. 

However, this is still not enough to deal with the scale of the humanitarian crisis.

"We need a stronger presence by humanitarian organizations in places like Wau Shilluk to provide immediate food and nutrition support and to reopen schools, ensure health services and support agricultural production," Guarnieri said.