Fresh conflict in Pibor, South Sudan, has affected thousands of already displaced people who now have to contend with fearing for their lives.
Late in 2019, severe floods in Pibor resulted in the loss of many homes and livelihoods for over 15 000 people. Over the last few days, Joint Aid Management (JAM) teams on the ground have been visiting various villages and have witnessed the devastation brought about by these floods.
Conflicting parties reportedly within a 30km radius are now advancing towards Pibor town, presenting an almost immediate threat for those that have nowhere to flee. In Pibor town, over 1500 people have fled their temporary homes towards United Nations and other humanitarian agencies compounds. It is difficult to determine the number of affected people outside of Pibor town due to safety concerns.
This fresh conflict comes in the wake of significant achievement in the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan, with the swearing in of the opposition leader, Dr. Riek Machar as the First Vice-President. The swearing in event was seen as a beacon of light in what has been a dark period for the people of South Sudan following about 6 years of conflict.
Late last year access to humanitarian services for most of these communities had been cut off as a result of flooding, that affected delivery of essential humanitarian aid. Pibor is prone to multiple hazards. Acute food insecurity, drought, disease and now inter-communal violence has left Pibor particularly vulnerable.
Persistently high prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) is well above World Health Organisation (WHO) emergency threshold of 15%, effectively meaning a higher mortality rate among affected children. Currently, 5368 children are enrolled in JAM’s nutrition programmes in Pibor county are at greater risk of death due to disruption of services.
Following the floods, JAM response teams have already assisted with basic NFI’s (non-food items) such as blankets, plastic sheeting, mosquito nets and soap for 250 flood affected families. Results from the most recent multi-agency rapid assessments indicate that basic needs have to be met immediately in order to stabilize the humanitarian situation.
In light of the unfolding displacement and humanitarian crisis, urgent life-saving interventions in the form of food, shelter, health services, mosquito nets and clothing are required to alleviate human suffering.