South Sudan: 30,000 displaced people receive aid in Awerial

01-01-2014 Operational Update

Tens of thousands of people fearing for their lives have fled violence in Jonglei state. They are crossing the Nile River and seeking refuge in Awerial county, in the centre of South Sudan. The need for humanitarian aid is acute, as more people arrive daily. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the South Sudan Red Cross today began a major aid distribution to meet immediate food, shelter and other needs.

A child with a gunshot wound to his hand rests on his father's lap as he undergoes medical treatment at the general military hospital in Juba, 28 December 2013. © Reuters/James Akena

"The road to the river is lined with thousands of people, with others waiting for boats to carry them across," said François Moreillon, ICRC deputy head of delegation, speaking from Awerial county. "This is the largest single identified concentration of displaced people in the country so far. We’re taking immediate action to address the vital needs of these people, who have already had to face enormous hardship.”

The ICRC’s initial response will provide 30,000 people with basic items such as blankets, tarpaulins, cooking kits, jerry cans and a two-week food supply. In addition, fishing kits are being distributed to over 16,000 residents of Awerial county, whose resources are under strain from this sudden influx of displaced people.

“We will be exploring other possibilities to help those affected. With thousands more arrivals expected, primarily women and children, these people are still extremely vulnerable,” said Mr Moreillon. The ICRC is closely monitoring needs and, together with the South Sudan Red Cross, will take further action as the security situation permits.

Elsewhere in South Sudan, the ICRC is calling on all parties to take every feasible precaution to minimize civilian casualties, to ensure respect for international humanitarian law, and to allow people to reach health-care facilities safely. “We are alarmed by the reports of violence against civilians in recent days,” said Melker Mabeck, ICRC head of delegation in Juba. “We are extremely concerned about reports of both targeted killings of civilians and ill treatment. Civilians must be protected from attacks and respect shown for human life.”
Hundreds have been wounded since the onset of violence on 15 December. All those injured are entitled to health care. Medical staff must be able to work in safety and medical facilities must not be targeted.

Since the fighting began, the ICRC and the South Sudan Red Cross have been working to address the most urgent needs. The ICRC has:

  • deployed three surgical teams to hospitals in Juba, Malakal and Bentiu, providing emergency medical care to hundreds of wounded people, with more surgical teams to arrive soon;
  • provided wound-dressing kits, medicines and other medical supplies to treat at least 500 people in Juba, and delivered medicines and other general and specialized medical supplies to treat up to 250 weapon-wounded patients in Bentiu and hundreds more in Malakal;
  • delivered 98,000 litres of clean water to one of Juba’s major hospitals, where it has also built eight latrines, and set up seven tents to increase space for patient wards;
  • provided tarpaulins for 6,000 people and tents for 7,200 people in a camp for the displaced in Juba;
  • helped family members separated by the fighting contact their loved ones by telephone and written messages
  • registered unaccompanied children with a view to reuniting families.

    For further information, please contact:

    Jacob Kurtzer, ICRC Juba, tel: +211 912360038#,
    Jean-Yves Clémenzo, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 17#, twitter: @JClemenzoICRC