IOM DG Highlights South Sudan Needs Amid Increasing Violence
IOM Director General William Lacy Swing travelled to South Sudan 23–24 May to visit IOM’s largest emergency operation and call attention to the urgent humanitarian needs of conflict-affected and displaced populations across the country.
“IOM remains committed to saving lives in South Sudan as civilians continue to bear the horrific consequences of this crisis,” he said, noting the upsurge in violence in South Sudan in recent weeks.
On 23 May, Ambassador Swing and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Ellen Margrethe Løj, with donor country and partner representatives, visited the protection of civilians (PoC) site at the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Bentiu, Unity State, where IOM has biometrically has registered more than 76,400 internally displaced persons (IDPs).
IOM and camp manager Danish Refugee Council continue to receive hundreds of new arrivals each day at the site, which is undergoing a massive, IOM-led expansion to improve living conditions and prevent flooding.
During the 2014 rainy season, site residents were forced to wade through water and sewage, preventable health conditions were prevalent and hygiene standards were dismal. Despite the efforts of the UN and humanitarian agencies, the site was simply not designed to host tens of thousands of people.
Since the onset of the dry season, UNMISS, IOM and its partners have worked to improve conditions by expanding the site, developing nearly 1.5 million square meters of land, equipped with extensive drainage infrastructure, shelters, sanitation facilities and other humanitarian services.
In coordination with UNMISS, IOM is also improving the security of the site through security and drainage berms. UNMISS and relief agencies plan to begin moving IDPs to the new site in the coming weeks. IOM has provided similar improvements to the PoC sites in Malakal, Upper Nile State, and in Bor, Jonglei State.
Acknowledging the escalation of insecurity, particularly in Unity and Upper Nile in recent weeks, and the increasingly difficult and dangerous working environment in field locations across South Sudan, Ambassador Swing noted that “the safety and security of IDPs and staff working at PoC sites are paramount.”
Reports of increased violence underscore the ongoing need to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations in conflict-affected areas.
During his visit, DG Swing also joined US Chargé d’Affaires David H. Kaeuper on a visit to the UN House PoC sites in the capital Juba. The UN and humanitarian partners at UN House are providing humanitarian assistance to over more than 34,500 IDPs, most of who have remained in these sites, afraid to leave, since December 2013. Through discussion with the UN House camp manager, the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), the Director General noted that increased resources are required to ensure uninterrupted humanitarian services at the site.
Since December 2013, conflict and food insecurity have forced more than 2 million people from their homes, including approximately 1.5 million inside South Sudan and more than 552,100 who have fled to neighbouring countries. With the support of donors and partner agencies, IOM is providing critical multi-sector humanitarian assistance to conflict-affected populations across South Sudan.