Crisis Will Affect One in Two South Sudanese Before Year End, Warns IOM

By International Office of Migration (IOM)
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GENEVA, Switzerland, June 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- With 1.4 million people displaced by the ongoing conflict in South Sudan since December (one million inside the country and almost 400,000 refugees in the region), IOM has warned that the humanitarian situation will worsen in the coming months and will affect one in two South Sudanese before the end of the year.

“With four million people in need of humanitarian assistance, the situation reminds me of Haïti with a cholera outbreak, the rainy season and a famine looming,” said IOM Director General Wlliam Lacy Swing, speaking in Geneva. “The question now is 'when' the famine will occur, not 'whether' it will occur. We need funding to avert this now – not in six months,” he added.

IOM has only received 43 per cent of the roughly USD 100 million that it has asked from international donors to help some 400,000 of the most vulnerable displaced people in South Sudan this year. But it warns that more money will be needed to respond to the still unfolding humanitarian crisis.

“Markets are empty and farmers are not planting, because of the insecurity which has spread across the country like wildfire over the past six months,” says IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission David Derthick.

“The operation is challenging and very expensive. We are scaling up our efforts in a country the size of France with enormous access problem, no roads worth the name, no infrastructure and 60 per cent of the existing roads inaccessible during the rainy season, in which we are now. Some areas are too dangerous to go and others are only reachable by helicopter,” he notes.

With 87 international staff and 500 national staff in 10 locations across South Sudan, IOM coordinates and manages camps; distributes temporary shelter and non-food relief items; coordinates water, sanitation and hygiene efforts (WASH); provides live saving primary health care and education; and is supporting a WHO-led oral cholera vaccination campaign.

It is also expanding protection (PoC) sites at UNMISS compounds where some 95,000 displaced people are sheltering from the violence. And it is operating a common transport service to provide the humanitarian community with road transport.

IOM is also working with UNHCR and other partners to provide assistance – transport, non-food relief items, and water and sanitation – for South Sudanese refugees seeking shelter in neighboring countries. These include 120,000 people in Ethiopia, 100,000 in Uganda, 50,000 in Kenya and 27,000 in Sudan.

“The magnitude of the crisis came as a shock to the humanitarian community last December, when we were all transitioning to development programmes. We now need much more donor support to cope with this emergency. We have been in South Sudan for a long time and plan to stay,” says Derthick.