Since the start of hostilities in December 2013, United Nations organizations estimate that over 110,000 South Sudanese have been displaced to over 73 locations within the country, yet humanitarian assistance has reached only 45% (33) of these locations so far[1]. Similarly, the World Bank has estimated that over 5% of the country’s population is displaced internally or have sought refuge outside the country[2]. Starvation and outbreak of diseases are already reported in some of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, and in Bor, “at least 30 children reportedly died as a result of a measles outbreak at a UN camp” according to a UN aid worker there[3]. These appalling humanitarian conditions at the IDP camps will need immediate and mixed responses. From my personal experience as a refugee in the previous war with Sudan and as a development aid worker in South Sudan for the past five years, I believe that the following interventions may be suited to reaching out to the displaced and vulnerable citizens affected by the current South Sudan crisis.

IDPs in rural areas are more susceptible to starvation as it is hard to find suitable food there. Their livelihoods have been destroyed or abandoned. Notably, the IDPs in Awerial County in Lakes State, IDPs in Leer County in Unity State, and the IDPs in Paloich in Upper Nile are in urgent need. Unlike the IDPs in the State HQs, these people are isolated and inaccessible for the most part. If another month passes without any food assistance, starvation and deaths will be reported in great numbers. Organizations lacking food items or finding it hard to transport food could instead channel in cash to local civil society organizations that have the capacity to reach these populations.

In such a time of crisis, IDPs will need Non-food-items (NFI) for temporary survival as well. Blankets, plastic sheets for temporary shades, utensils, and mosquito nets are some crucial NFI that could be provided. Water containers, water purification materials, and tablets are of immediate need as well. For example, jericans and buckets for fetching and keeping water from the River Nile and swamps ought to be supplied to them.

Moreover, lack of latrines and hygiene facilities make the health situations in the IDPs centers hazardous. Deteriorating health conditions of IDPs could affect nearby populations. This is the case in Juba, Bentiu, Bor, and Malakal. Combined with hunger, the lives of the IDPs will be severely threatened if the hygienic situation in these camps is not intervened on. The digging of temporary latrines in the IDP camps would contribute to better conditions for civilians there. Malaria, diarrhea, flu and other needed medicines should be provided urgently to prepare for and help during disease outbreaks

Finally, IDP camp mothers with children between 0-4 years could be assisted with cash to help generate little income through camp markets. They could use the provided cash to buy food items from host communities. This would help with the care of their children and themselves. Well fed and cared for children may survive the harshness of the current humanitarian situation in the IDP camps.

Author is a South Sudanese and Can be reached at dhuretingting@gmail.com

[1] UN Estimates For South Sudan IDPs Rise 110,000+ In One Week. Can Be Retrieved At Https://Radiotamazuj.Org/En/Article/Un-Estimates-South-Sudan-Idps-Rise-110000-One-Week
[2] Map: More Than 5% Of South Sudan Population Displaced. Information Can Be Found At Https://Radiotamazuj.Org/En/Article/Map-More-5-South-Sudan-Population-Displaced
[3] S. Sudan: UNICEF needs $ 32M amid ‘dire’ humanitarian Crisis. The link to this information is retrieval at http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article49736

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