Providing Effective Support to Displaced Communities in Agok and Hai Masna

For years now, people living in and around Wau – like residents of many towns in South Sudan – have had their lives drastically affected by recurring armed clashes.

In 2014, one year into the South Sudanese civil war and three years after the foundation of the State, fighting intensified around the town. The violence forced nearly a thousand people to seek safety on the Wau UNMISS base. A subsequent escalation of armed clashes in late June 2016 led to the additional displacement of over 40,000 people in Wau by September of the same year. This newly displaced population took shelter in various locations, including the area beside the UNMISS base, which became a protection of civilian (PoC) site, and the grounds of a local cathedral.

Today, many of these people are still living in displacement. Some people go into the town during the day or check on their properties but still do not feel safe enough to sleep there. One person living in the Wau cathedral collective centre said that it is still too dangerous for him to go home and, even if it was safe enough, he explained that there is nothing left for him anymore. However, a recent IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) survey showed that 40 per cent of people interviewed were planning to leave the PoC within the first quarter of 2019.

June of last year saw violence clashes take place between armed groups in areas south of Wau, including Baggari County and Jur River. As the fighting spread, more and more people were forced to flee their homes in search of safety closer to Wau town.

The displaced population - some 1,931 people - sought shelter and protection in two main locations: Hai Masna and Agok.

As part of it’s United Kingdom’s (UK) Department of International Development (DFID) funded mobile response, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) assisted the non-governmental organization (NGO), Action for Development (AFOD), in coordinating a multisector response, including health, shelter, aid item distribution, water, sanitation and hygiene, protection, gender-based violence prevention and food security and livelihood support. IOM’s camp management team provided technical assistance, staff surge capacity and shared tools with AFOD to ensure effective governance structures for the newly displaced population, which was some 1,171 in Agok and 760 in Hai Masna.

Mary Seliverio Marjan reported a concern she had to IOM camp management in Agok; she was part of the group of displaced people, who began sheltering there last year.

“We reported to the camp management a concern we had over education for our children,” said Mary. “They managed to provide classes for our children inside an existing primary school in the area though other partner. Our children are now enrolled in school,” said Mary.

IOM also helped establish complaint and feedback mechanisms in both displacement sites.

Mary explained that she was happy when the mechanisms were set up because she knows that any grievance, if reported, will be considered and appropriate action will be taken. “It would be difficult for us to raise any issue or concern to any organization without the presence of this complaint desk,” she said. Before camp management support came to Agok, Mary said that when she arrived from Bazia, “we suffered a lot,” and that another organization had supported the displaced community with latrines and bathing shelters, but they had all been damaged.

For Mary, she sees camp management support as something, which is helping the people in Agok displacement site overcome their differences.

“We came to Agok from different areas and backgrounds. Before the camp management team’s support, it was very difficult for the community to solve minor problems like those caused by alcohol abuse. After the formation of the community leadership committees, it became easier to resolve issues and for each block leader to manage their section of the community. I think that this was the best system introduced by the camp management team.”

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