NEW YORK – Responding to vital humanitarian needs in South Sudan, the first of two planes chartered by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) arrived in the capital, Juba, today, loaded with supplies for women and children across the crisis-stricken country.
“These essential and life-saving supplies will help thousands of children and women in desperate need across South Sudan,” said Dermot Carty, UNICEF Deputy Director of Emergency Programmes.
Mr. Carty, usually based in Geneva, will be in South Sudan for a month, supporting UNICEF’s work to assist communities affected by the current crisis, which has taken a heavy toll on civilians since it began in mid-December.
Fighting between pro- and anti-Government forces have uprooted well over half a million people across the world’s youngest nation, with some of them having sought refuge in neighbouring countries. Nearly 70,000 of those displaced within the country are sheltering at the bases of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Almost 80 per cent of those at the UN protection sites are women and children.
The plane that arrived today brought treatments for malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and malnutrition, as well as nutrients, vitamins, antibiotics and painkillers for children. The supplies also include midwifery and obstetric surgery kits, equipment that will help to deliver clean water and sanitation, and tents, tarpaulins and blankets.
The next plane is expected to arrive on Thursday, bringing in more medical supplies and water and sanitation equipment.
“Children are dying from malnutrition and diseases that can be prevented in times of peace – such as measles and malaria,” said Mr. Carty. “Our most urgent plea now is for all parties in the conflict to allow these humanitarian supplies to be transported and distributed safely to the children who have no part in this conflict.
“Each day we lose, we fail the children of South Sudan,” he added.
UNICEF said that over 200,000 have been reached with some form of assistance. However, in areas where fighting has been heavy, humanitarian assistance is sporadic as access is limited.
“The biggest challenge at the moment is to be able to get access to those who are in need for security reasons,” Mr. Carty stated. “To adapt to that, we are trying to be nimble and flexible. We are ready to jump through windows of opportunity when they appear.”
Meanwhile, UNMISS reported that it has conducted 49 police and 112 military patrols in the past 24 hours, including in Juba, Bentiu in Unity state and in Malakal in Upper Nile state. In Malakal, the Mission has received reports that the national forces – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army – appears to be in control of the town, after heavy fighting between the SPLA and anti-Government forces yesterday.
UNMISS reported continued small-scale fighting in the town today. It is also very concerned about the continued reports of extra-judicial killings, and intends to investigate these reports.
To the south, in Unity state, the Mission has received reports of rising tensions in the town of Leer, as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) is reported to be advancing toward the town.
In Jonglei state, UNMISS reported that the situation is calm in the vicinity of its compound in Bor, where some 1,000 UN troops and police are currently protecting 10,000 civilians sheltering there.