IOM Targets Vulnerable Populations in Remote Areas of South Sudan

By International Office of Migration (IOM)

IOM rapid response teams are addressing the humanitarian needs of crisis-affected populations outside of displacement sites in South Sudan. Expanding the reach of lifesaving aid is crucial as the two-year conflict continues to increase vulnerability among internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities across the country.

In Aweil West County, IOM recently completed a measles vaccination campaign after the Ministry of Health and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) reported five cases of measles and officially confirmed an outbreak.

In partnership with Concern Worldwide and the Ministry of Health, IOM vaccinated an estimated 30,000 children under five years of age against the disease. The health rapid response team has now moved to Aweil South County to support an integrated polio and measles vaccination campaign, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and WHO, to be undertaken from 12—16 April.

“Expanding the reach of health services outside of displacement sites is critical, as the conflict and displacement have reduced access to basic services across the country. Children are extremely vulnerable to disease outbreaks, particularly in areas with low immunization coverage,” explains IOM Migration Health Programme Manager Kelsi Kriitmaa.

In March, IOM conducted a two-week health rapid response mission to Weichdeng, Ayod County, where health care services are dire for both IDPs and host communities. An estimated 4,100 IDPs arrived in Weichdeng in late 2015 and early 2016 from Old Fangak and Piji Canal counties, according to local authorities.

The response supported emergency health care efforts of COSV, the main health care provider in the area. IOM health staff conducted nearly 2,000 medical consultations, providing curative care, vaccinations, maternal care and nutrition screening and treatment. The response team also delivered nutritional supplements to help treat cases of acute malnutrition.

IOM is also responding to shelter needs in Mundri West County, where civilians were cut off from humanitarian assistance for much of 2015. After distributing 1,500 survival kits in March, IOM returned to Mundri with national NGO Lacha Community and Economic Development (LCED) to assess current needs and plan for additional relief distributions in the area.

As part of an effort to provide assistance to areas surrounding the UN protection of civilians (PoC) site in Bentiu, IOM recently distributed shelter and relief items in Guit County. The distribution is part of a strategy to provide aid to vulnerable populations where they live, to reduce their need to travel to the congested PoC site, which is protecting an estimated 120,000 IDPs.

Since the war erupted in South Sudan in December 2013, more than 1.69 million people remain displaced internally and 706,600 people have fled to neighbouring countries. More than 200,000 IDPs are sheltering in UN displacement sites, while the majority have fled to remote areas across the country.