S. Sudan Does Not Get Due Attention: Humanitarian Chief

Sue Lautze and Hilde F. Johnson during the Thursday press conference in the Tomping UNMISS compound. [Gurtong| Francis Apiliga Lagu]

The acting UN humanitarian Coordinator and also head of UN Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) in South Sudan, Sue Lautze said the humanitarian crises in the new nation is the most complicated in the world. 

“Humanitarian operations are expensive. One metric ton (of relief good), requires US$1300 (for airdrops),” Ms Lautze lamented during a Thursday press conference in Juba. “Neither South Sudan nor Central African Republic is receiving the assistance they require. People of South Sudan don’t deserve this suffering.”

Since December 2013 when the armed internal conflict broke out in Juba, thousands have been killed, a million more displaced as thousands more sought protection at UN facilities across South Sudan.

Lautze said 90% of the Internally Displaced persons (IDPs) don’t have basic necessities and 3.7million people across the country are extremely food insecure as compounded by the armed conflict.

The UN says there is poor and slow response to humanitarian agencies’ joint appeal for US$1.27billion for immediate needs and preposition relief supplies to areas that are impassable during the rainy season.

Relatedly, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) would close its Protection of Civilians-site (POC) in Tomping to avoid it from becoming a death trap.

With the rainy season now settling in, conditions are getting worse at the Tomping and Malakal according to the head of Mission Hilde F. Johnson are at imminent risk of turning into death traps. 

To date, 21,000 of the over 67,000 people seeking protection at UN facilities, are in the flood prone-Tomping protection site.. “Most of these areas as you know, are swamps and flooded during the rainy season,” Ms Johnson said on Thursday.

“They have to be closed before we face an outbreak of deadly water borne diseases, such as cholera and typhoid. As the rains increase, we all may find ourselves with a health catastrophe at our hands. We will close the Tomping Protection site within the UNMISS compound in May.”

As a result of the recent violent rains in Juba, half of the latrines in Tomping protection site collapsed and the drainage systems were severely damaged.  

The IDPs would be transferred to a new safer site under preparation near the UN House in Jebel.  “I appeal to community leaders, both inside the camp and outside, to help explain the urgency of this relocation to the IDPs.  We need, at all cost, to avoid a situation where people are trapped in deadly conditions, which could result in the loss of many lives,” Ms Johnson said.

The two UN leaders called on the warring parties to allow humanitarian assistance reach all the areas they control and appealed for immediate return of peace in the country.

“People of South Sudan have suffered far too long.  They didn’t deserve going through these nightmares again.  They deserve peace.  They need peace,” Ms Johnson appealed.

“I therefore call on all leaders to put the country’s interest before their own.  I also call on all South Sudanese citizens to put the nation’s interest before their own community.”

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