South Sudan: Survivors of violence face new crisis

| February 29, 2016

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An estimated 18 people died last week when government soldiers broke into a Protection of Civilians (PoC) camp in Malakal, South Sudan. People in the camp desperately tried to flee gun battles and a fire that destroyed half the camp.

Some 15,000 people, mostly Nuer and Shilluk, have taken shelter in a narrow strip of land near the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) peacekeeping base, 500 metres from the PoC. About 5,000 mainly Dinka people have fled into nearby Malakal town. An estimated 25,000 people are still living in the parts of the PoC that were not destroyed by the fire.

Aid workers are now being asked to do the near impossible—provide immediate services for 20,000 people displaced from their original site of refuge, and plan the rebuilding of the camp. It is an alarming humanitarian situation.

John McCue is head of operations for the International Organization for Migration, based in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. He says: “It’s completely untenable, it’s too small, it’s too crowded … there is nothing that can be done; the priority needs to be on UNMISS showing the population that they are able to provide security within the PoC. It’s the only solution. Otherwise, we are looking at a major health risk.”

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Photo credit: IOM/Gonzalez Palau 2016