Photo credits: © Conrad Doruseau
South Sudan: Providing lifesaving care as fighting continues
We prepare to resume our operations in Juba.
Dec 31 2013
In South Sudan’s capital city of Juba, the violence which began on 15th December continued to spread.
A week of intense volatility
Heavy fighting was reported near the airport which was shut down. At that point, Action Against Hunger put our staff in what we in the humanitarian field call “hibernation mode,” meaning all staff were to remain in their homes and not travel. We also put our field teams on alert, as violence was spreading throughout the country, and limited our activities to those involving life-saving nutrition interventions. Over the next week, the situation deteriorated further. We slowly started moving our field staff, and evacuating our international staff out of the country. On December 23rd, just before Christmas, the last group of 13 staff members were moved to safety.
A swift plan to maintain operations
We quickly set up remote management in Nairobi, Kenya. Key humanitarian experts continued to work under the leadership of our Emergency Operations Specialist, focusing on:
- continuing our nutrition programmes for more than 3,000 children currently receiving lifesaving support in South Sudan's Warrap and Northern Bahr el Gazal states;
- Providing remote technical support for national managers in Warrap and Northern Bahr el Gazal;
- Establishing communications with all relevant partners including donors and United Nations counterparts to add to our understanding of needs on the ground;
- Undertaking the necessary security assessments and planning our return to Juba by the new year; and
- Organising a more efficient mission structure to manage our current lifesaving programmes and broaden our scope to respond to the larger crisis.
The Path Forward
We ask all parties to respect humanitarian principles and enable humanitarian agencies immediate and unhindered access to affected areas to deliver life-saving services to the populations affected. The current humanitarian response is still quite limited, impinged by the continuation of widespread fighting. We are concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation and limited access, preventing agencies from reaching tens of thousands of displaced South Sudanese citizens. We continue to monitor the situation in Warrap state, to support the flow of displaced people from the frontlines in Unity state.
The positive news is that the current security situation in our own operational areas is reported to be normal. We thank our very committed and capable national teams for managing operations in the absence of international staff, and for continuing to deliver life-saving support to children in their communities. And we look forward to returning to Juba in short order.
We are already in discussions with all humanitarian actors in the area to define the scope of our longer-term response and the role we can play as soon as the security situation becomes more tenable in all parts of the country.
Help the forgotten children of South Sudan