More than 10,000 internally displaced people arrive at UN camp in South Sudan

August 12, 2015 OPINION/NEWS

10.08.15_IOM_Malakal Press Release Photo

 

By

Peter Louis

The International Organisation for Migration in South Sudan (IOM) is currently responding to a rapid influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the UN protection of civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, in the Upper Nile State.

Since mid July, over 16,000 new arrivals have sought protection at the site, leading to severe congestion, stretching the capacity of aid agencies to provide humanitarian services. Relief agencies are racing to cope with the influx as the rainy season creates increasingly desperate living conditions.

From April,  conflict has prevented humanitarian actors from accessing communities in areas surrounding Malakal, prompting a deterioration of humanitarian conditions and worsening food insecurity. As a result, thousands of civilians have made their way to the PoC site in search of assistance and protection.

Nearly 10,700 IDPs have arrived at the site since 1 August, adding to an influx of over 6,000 in July. Today, more than 46,500 IDPs are currently sheltering at the site, which was designed for only 18,000 people.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and humanitarian agencies have taken immediate action to provide additional space to shelter families in dry areas. The IOM, camp manager, Danish Refugee Council and partners are also working together to provide access to relief services. In addition, IOM is using plastic sheeting pre-positioned during the dry season to provide communal shelters for new arrivals.

“IOM is doing everything it can to provide services to new arrivals. But the current influx is unprecedented and, due to space constraints, IDPs are being allocated space in areas not designed for living space. Heavy rains together with increasing congestion are creating untenable living conditions,” stated IOM Malakal Field Officer Rainer Gonzalez Palau.

Although IOM and its partners undertook an extensive operation to expand the PoC site in 2014 and 2015, the area was not planned to accommodate this number of IDPs. Space for new arrivals is extremely limited; many have settled along the main road or in congested areas with relatives already living in the site.

Operations are underway to ensure IDPs have access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Although IOM is digging emergency pit latrines, these are still inadequate to meet the increasing demand.

To stem the flow of new arrivals, relief agencies will require immediate access to populations that have been cut off from assistance for months in areas surrounding Malakal.

Nearly 20 months of conflict have created immense humanitarian needs across South Sudan. Approximately 1.6 million people remain internally displaced and millions more face severe food insecurity.

 

 

 

 

 

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Peter Louis

Peter Louis works as a freelance Videographer and Journalist in the Republic of South Sudan. He previously worked for Ebony TV, South Sudan Radio and South Sudan TV, Wau.

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