Following reduced donor funding and climate shocks, the Deputy Head of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) visits Bor to assess the humanitarian situation
Repeated cycles of civil war have devastated communities in the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan, and created a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by climate change.
People across the country are being badly affected by some of the heaviest rainfall in nearly a century. This has led to a situation where flooding has displaced tens of thousands of people, where food insecurity is on the rise while health care and education continue to be disrupted.
With competing crises around the world, donor funding has dwindled, but community needs continue to grow exponentially here.
It is in this complex context that Sara Beysolow Nyanti, Deputy Special Representative for South Sudan as well as Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, traveled to Bor in Jonglei State.
“We can no longer take a business as usual approach in South Sudan,” Ms. Nyanti said.
“We need to work in a unified and focused way on the nexus between peace, development and humanitarianism to ensure that today’s children have a fighting chance to reach their full potential. This is the only way to bring lasting change here,” she added.
Ms. Nyanti’s first agenda: Meet with the Governor of Jonglei, Denay Jock Chagor.
“We had a very fruitful conversation about the humanitarian landscape in Jonglei. But above all, we talked about the need for a comprehensive peace,” the DSRSG revealed.
“There is a need to consolidate and cement peace in the state to pave the way for humanitarian access and humanitarian actions as well as development,” she explained.
Other topics covered: Strengthening partnerships to create an enabling environment for the delivery of much-needed assistance and to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers, given the increasing attacks on them in recent years.
Next on the agenda of the deputy head of UNMISS was a meeting with representatives of the Bor camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), which houses some 2,600 people.
“The situation in the camp is dire and people are hungry. Recent funding cuts from the World Food Program (WFP) have affected us and we would like to request exceptional funding for Jonglei. We understand that money is scarce, but we rely on the UN to feed our children,” said John Both, leader of the displaced people in the camp.
“We need our international friends, donors to help boost education, healthcare and protect women from gender-based violence inside the IDP camp,” added Nyabiel Gatbel, a youth representative . Another key issue raised by Ms. Gatbel: Providing dignity kits to people with disabilities, young girls and women in the camp.
The economic situation has not helped. Rising inflation has led to a corresponding increase in food prices. Households are under financial pressure and, combined with conflict and massive flooding, community members are in shock.
Seeing the impact of climate shocks firsthand was an important part of Ms. Nyanti’s agenda.
With the waters of the White Nile overflowing into the city, UNMISS peacekeepers along with humanitarian partners such as WFP and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have built and rehabilitated some 22 kilometers of dykes adjacent to the river . Another 22 kilometer dyke has been constructed between Baidit and Kolmarek, while work is underway to shore up a 45 kilometer stretch between Aduar in Bor County and Twic East.
But the fury of nature, in the form of flood waters, is difficult to master all at once.
“In Old Fangak, WFP constructed a 65 kilometer dyke and the state authorities managed to relocate some 1,100 severely affected people,” said Ding Akol Ding, chairman of the flood management task force of the Old Fangak. ‘Jonglei State.
“However, the floods have brought related challenges – there is a lack of sewage disposal; snakes compete with humans for dry spaces; drinking water and food are scarce. With six counties under water, hundreds of people are internally displaced while an equal number have fled to neighboring countries such as Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia,” reveals- he. “We desperately need UN support.”
To add to this, across Jonglei, the security situation continues to be unstable – inter-communal conflict and cattle rustling are a grim reality facing the people of this state.
But for now, what worries most is the imminent reduction in food aid from the WFP.
The DSRSG Nyanti is well aware of this fact.
“No child, no adult should go hungry. I have listened carefully to what communities are telling me. Ushering in peace and prosperity is not the job of one person. It takes a village, as they say. I urge everyone not to give up hope. The United Nations family is here to support all South Sudanese to the best of our abilities,” she said.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
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