Malakal occupies a strategic position in South Sudan and was the site of much fighting in late December. Violence has returned to the city in spite of this month's peace agreement, and money and resources are in short supply following looting of the market and banks. Some staff from our Children’s Village in Malakal recently left the city for Juba after the violence took an ethnic turn, and are currently involved in the relief effort with our national team.
140 children and young people, as well as 30 staff, remain inside the Village, which is running low on food, medical supplies and nutritional supplements. 40 infants are at risk of malnutrition. The UN is attempting to supply the Village with six tons of food, but so far the challenging circumstances have prevented delivery. The food shortage is compounded by the looting of the banks, making it difficult for the Village to access money.
We are doing all we can to ensure SOS families get the help they need to come through this time of crisis. Paul Boyle has visited Malakal from our East African office to assess the scale of need and help plan a way forward with our national team in Juba. “We cannot sit back and wait for things to happen. We have to make them happen,” he said. Though supply routes are difficult, we have been able to transport water to the Village. Today, we are working to bring other essentials to Malakal despite the chaos.
The humanitarian situation in summary
The statistics show that the humanitarian crisis is far from over despite the ceasefire agreement:
- 646,400 people remain internally displaced
- 123,400 people are refugees outside South Sudan
- A measles outbreak has reportedly killed 40 children at the UN camp in Bor. The UN is conducting a vaccination programme
- 76,500 living in UN camps
- 291,000 received aid up to now
A mixed picture as peace slowly returns
The picture across South Sudan today is a mixed one. Following last week’s ceasefire, a vestige of peace has been restored, and observers are cautiously reporting that a degree of normality has returned to the capital Juba. General calm has returned Bor in Jonglei province, an area racked by violence at the height of the crisis and ultimately taken by rebel forces.
Nevertheless, other humanitarian concerns have arisen despite the gradual return to calm. In Bor, 4,000 children will be vaccinated against measles and polio following an outbreak of measles which has so far killed 40 children at the city's UN camp. The mass movement of people around the country and unhygienic conditions in which many are living makes this a dangerous threat. South Sudan’s already buckling healthcare infrastructure is unable to cope with the extra burden at this time of crisis. Education is suffering too, with at least 60 schools being used as shelters for displaced people.
Hundreds of thousands remain away from home due to the violence. Upper Nile State, where Malakal is located, holds the greatest number of displaced people, estimated at close to 150,000. However, people are slowly returning home. At the peak of the crisis, around 1,000 people had sought refuge at our Children’s Village. Over the past three weeks, that number has dropped to roughly 100.
How you can help
SOS Children began work in the South Sudan region long before independence in 2011. Since 2002, we have provided ongoing care and support to some of the area’s most vulnerable children, and a new home in an SOS family to those who have lost their own. We will be there long after the violence has passed, continuing to help those who need us the most.
Please help by sponsoring a child.
Alternatively, find out more about our work in South Sudan...