25 February 2014

The Continuing Crisis in South Sudan

2/25/2014 UPDATE: Despite a ceasefire agreement between the government of South Sudan and the South Sudanese rebels, fighting has once again broken out in Malakal, home to 120 SOS children, mothers and staff members.  In response to the ongoing conflict, the families and staff of the SOS Village in Malakal have taken refuge in a nearby UN camp.

Approximately 90 SOS children, 10 mothers and several aunts have been evacuated to the UN camp, while 40 children and young people have fled with an SOS Youth Leader across the Nile River. SOS is in urgent need of an additional tent to house all 90 children at the UN camp. In the meantime, some children are staying in an UN tent and others are at a Child Friendly Space tent.  Our South Sudan office is looking to arrange a chartered flight to evacuate SOS staff and beneficiaries to Juba. 

This situation is developing and we will continue to provide updated information in our newsroom as it becomes available.

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1/31/2014: The crisis of violence in South Sudan has left around 10,000 citizens dead and around 355,000 displaced (Source: UN Refugee Agency).  On January 23rd, a cease-fire agreement was reached by the conflicting parties; the need for aid remains urgent and continuing instability in the region hinders aid delivery.

Since the last update, Paul Boyle, Coordinator of SOS Emergency Response in South Sudan, has visited Juba, South Sudan and received updates on the current state of the conflict and the condition of the SOS Children’s Village of Malakal. Instances of violence continue and some SOS co-workers have relocated from Malakal to Juba for protection. The airport in Juba is once again functional, and the number of Internally Displaced Persons in SOS Children’s Village Malakal has decreased from approximately 1,000 to 100.

Along with this tenuous progress comes a host of challenges. Security risks and the continuing rainy season make delivering supplies via road transportation difficult. Malakal banks have been looted and are not operating, so delivering financial aid is problematic. Looting in the markets has reduced access to food and basic non-food items, and the Village is running low on these resources. In addition, the lack of security on the roads makes it unsafe for Juba medical staff to reach the Village.

The SOS staff within South Sudan and abroad is working to address these urgent needs. We are making every effort to find alternative ways to deliver food and financial aid to Malakal. SOS Children’s Villages is working closely with the UN to deliver food and ensure that UN medical support is available to the Village. In both the short and long-term, SOS Children’s Villages is striving to ensure that child-friendly spaces and protection services are available to all children within the Village and within the UN camps in the area. While the current situation is grave, and the logistical challenges severe, they are not insurmountable. With support from our global family, the skills and knowledge of our team, and the resilience of our SOS mothers, children and co-workers, we will work to ensure that the families and children of Malakal have refuge from the instability that persists in South Sudan.