UN Seeks Security For Civilians And Aid Workers

UNMISS supporting a WFP food distribution and providing medical assistance to the displaced people in the UN compound in Bentiu. Sunday, 22 December 2013. [UNMISS/Anna Adhikari]

In a statement to the press after return from Jonglei Capital, Bor under control of rebels now, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan Toby Lanzer expressed deteriorating humanitarian conditions of civilians following the escalation of the violence there.

“I am engaging all parties to ensure that civilians are protected and that aid workers are able to access people who need our help,” Toby said. .

“Aid agencies are now responding to the needs of thousands of civilians affected by the recent armed violence affecting South Sudan – including an estimated 20,000 people in two UN peacekeeping compounds in Juba,” he said.

He explained that, Non-governmental organizations and UN agencies are providing life-saving services in the two bases, including water and sanitation, shelter and emergency healthcare to people displaced by the armed violence.

Emergency latrines are being dug, high-energy biscuits provided to meet urgent nutritional needs of children and other vulnerable people, and emergency surgical supplies, drugs, and reproductive health kits delivered to hospitals around Juba, Toby said, adding that Aid agencies have also been able to deliver food to some 7,000 people who have sought shelter in the UN peacekeeping base in Bentiu, Unity State.

While assistance is underway in these two cities, I am also concerned about thousands of people affected by the past week’s violence in other parts of the country, Toby said.

“The situation is particularly bad in Jonglei and Unity states, where fighting has displaced thousands of civilians,” Toby said.

He said “while there, I witnessed firsthand the harrowing results of the intense violence that has swept the area”. “I heard heartbreaking accounts of people’s suffering, including tales of children separated from their parents. Aid workers are also under intense pressure, with humanitarian compounds looted in several locations.”

We are looking at a massive increase in need, he said, adding humanitarians will continue to stand by the people of South Sudan at this extremely difficult time and provide impartial and neutral aid to save lives and alleviate suffering.

“I call on donors to make resources available so that agencies can bring in managers, specialists and supplies without delay,” urged Toby.

Jonglei is one of the States the attempted coup in Juba escalated to with fight between government forces and loyalists to Dr. Reik Machar who now controls Bor and Bentiu.

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