The Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Eugene Owusu, visited Leer Town and Thonyor in southern Unity State on 6 January, accompanied by members of the humanitarian community, including representatives of UN entities, NGOs and donors.
“The humanitarian situation in Unity State is extremely worrying,” said Mr. Owusu, “civilians in these areas have suffered tremendously and food insecurity and malnutrition are extremely high.”
The delegation met with local authorities in both locations and expressed appreciation for the mutual cooperation that allowed the resumption of humanitarian operations at the beginning of December 2015. Since fighting broke out in Unity State in April 2015, humanitarian presence in Leer County had been intermittent due to insecurity, with several locations inaccessible for months at a time.
“We are happy that the guns are silent and that the improved security situation has allowed us to provide urgently needed assistance to people in Leer County since early December,” said Mr. Owusu. “It is absolutely critical that the current stability be maintained so that we can continue to deliver life-saving aid in the months ahead.”
Civilians said they had survived for about seven months hiding in swampy areas and eating wild fruits. They told the delegation that homes had been burned, people killed and livelihoods destroyed during the fighting. They expressed concerns about their health and the lack of education for their children. “We don’t want to run anymore. We are happy that there is peace now,” said a man in Leer Town.
Since humanitarian partners returned to Leer County in early December, they have provided food and survival kits containing critical household items, such as mosquito nets and kitchen sets, conducted health consultations, repaired boreholes, established nutritional programs, and undertaken protection activities. The Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) results published in October 2015 emphasized that the delivery of ongoing humanitarian assistance is vital to avert the further deterioration of the food insecurity and malnutrition situation in Unity State, where an estimated 40,000 people were expected to be facing catastrophic food insecurity as of October.
Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)