Partners respond to needs of influx of IDPs in Pibor
Since mid-February, thousands of people have fled the ongoing inter-communal clashes in several areas of Jonglei State in South Sudan. Humanitarians on the ground have been mobilizing resources and coordinating the response to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection to the affected-people.
Inter-communal fighting, cattle raiding and revenge attacks between armed youth groups have been reported in Akobo, Nyirol and Pibor counties, all in Jonglei. Casualties are reported to be large, but the exact number of wounded and dead remains unknown. In Manyabol and Likuangole towns, the hardest-hit locations in Pibor County, government buildings, civilian houses, humanitarian facilities and other buildings were burnt down to the ground. Dead bodies of humans and animals are reportedly in the streets in Likuangole town.
Fleeing their homes, civilians walked for hours, seeking safety at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan Area Adjacent (UNMISS AA) site. Nearly 8,500 people from 1,522 households were registered at the UNMISS AA site on of 6 March. In addition, other displaced people are sheltering in bushes, west of Pibor, and some 450 people are taking refuge in Bor County. In Akobo and Nyirol counties, an estimated 16,000 people have been affected.
Civilians, mainly women, children and elderly, who arrived at the UNMISS AA site reported that the violence had devastated the areas with houses and livelihoods ravaged. Families are separated and there are reports of children and women being abducted by armed groups. A woman who fled the violence in Manyabol town and arrived in the UNMISS AA site said that her ten children were separated from her when they fled the violence and she did not ascertain their whereabouts. The situation on the ground remains fluid with population movements. Humanitarian organizations have conducted need assessments that identified food, shelter, household items, health care, clean water and sanitation services as immediate needs.
“Needs are huge, but resources are limited on the ground with some humanitarian workers are relocated from Pibor due to insecurity. OCHA has coordinated two assessments and more assessments are ongoing. OCHA has mobilized humanitarian partners to ensure the pressing needs of people are addressed while advocating for more resources and capacity to respond to the evolving needs,” said Richard Luguma, OCHA National Field Coordination Officer who is coordinating the frontline response in Pibor.
Humanitarians have scaled up response for the displaced people at the UNMISS AA site—distributing food; providing access to clean water; establishing of health facilities; conducting nutrition screening with the provision of nutritional support; providing routine vaccination; setting up sanitation facilities; and distributing personal hygiene items for women and girls. However, more support is still needed, including emergency shelters and household items such as mosquito nets, cooking utensils, water containers, blankets and sleeping mats.
“South Sudanese and international non-governmental organizations play a crucial role in responding to the needs of people, providing humanitarian assistance and protection services at the frontline. OCHA is working closely with partners to ensure the affected-people receive assistance they need,” said Richard.
Pibor County has already had significant humanitarian needs as a result of conflict, food insecurity and natural disasters. According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report released in February, Akobo, Nyirol and Pibor counties, which are affected by the ongoing inter-communal clashes linked to cattle raiding, are expected to be suffering from an emergency level of food insecurity (IPC Phase 4) between February and April. These areas were hardest-hit by the unusually severe flooding in the second half of 2019. The entire community was submerged with people displaced, houses and farmland destroyed, and basic services and markets were non-functional.
“Resilience of the people is incredible, “Richard remarks and continues” “They have been affected by multiple humanitarian crises that uprooted their lives and livelihoods. Women in Pibor who have started vegetable gardening after the floods told me that their gardens were destroyed during the clashes. They have to start all over again. They need sustained support from the donors and humanitarian community to rebuild their livelihoods when they can go back to their homes.”