Posted by: africanpressorganization | 30 January 2014

IOM provides urgently needed assistance to people displaced by conflict in Malakal, South Sudan


IOM provides urgently needed assistance to people displaced by conflict in Malakal, South Sudan


GENEVA, Switzerland, January 30, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ Heavy fighting in Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile State, caused widespread destruction and displaced thousands of people from their homes over the past month. An estimated 27,000 people have taken shelter on a UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Malakal.

IOM is at the forefront of assisting people displaced by conflict, both in Malakal and across South Sudan. The Organization is delivering shelter materials and non-food items, providing lifesaving health care and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, coordinating the management of displacement sites and registering people so that they can receive assistance.

As lead provider of WASH assistance for the displaced population in Malakal, IOM staff has been working since the beginning of the crisis to deliver treated water, build latrines and showers, collect refuse and promote good hygiene practices.

Ongoing insecurity in the Malakal area has created challenges for delivering enough treated water by truck to the site. In order to ensure that water needs are met, IOM is currently constructing a new pipeline from the nearby river to the site, and is also providing chlorine treatment at the main entrance of the site for people bringing water back from the river.

Over-congestion is a significant challenge at the site, which was originally intended only to host UN staff and equipment. The estimated site density is currently 2.2 square meters per person, which is significantly below the Sphere humanitarian standard of 45 square meters per person.

“I’ve been living at UNMISS for two weeks now,” a displaced civilian told IOM. “I was studying education at the university in Malakal. Life is so difficult now because of the insecurity. The site here is very congested. In the place where I am living, there are 15 people in one spot.”

As co-lead of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster, IOM is working with UNMISS and humanitarian partners to identify ways to expand the site’s Protection of Civilians area and ensure that space is available for the further construction of vital infrastructure such as latrines and water points.

During the heavy fighting earlier this month, the UNMISS Level 2 Hospital was destroyed by shelling and emergency health partners that were initially providing support were evacuated, creating a major gap in health care availability. On 26 January IOM reopened a clinic previously operated by a health partner on the base. The clinic consists of three prefabricated buildings serving as consultation rooms and a pharmacy. Tents have also been erected for triage and waiting areas.

“We are seeing between 250 and 300 patients per day at our clinic,” said IOM Migration Health Officer Dr. Mamadou Diao Bah. “These numbers emphasize the urgent need for health care support here. We are mainly seeing cases of diarrhea and malaria, which are treatable but of course can be very serious if not addressed.”

The crowded conditions at the UNMISS base raise a serious risk for the outbreak of disease. To help mitigate this risk, IOM and partners are organizing a mass measles and oral polio vaccination campaign, set to begin as soon as a reliable cold chain can be re-established in Malakal.

On 28 January, UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos visited Malakal, meeting with patients and medical staff at the IOM clinic and also touring the looted IOM warehouses in the town. Ms. Amos expressed her appreciation toward IOM and humanitarian agencies in Malakal, saying, “I am proud of the work of aid agencies in South Sudan who remained during this tense and difficult period, delivering aid.”

As security conditions allow, IOM will expand its assistance outside of the UNMISS Malakal base. An assessment mission to determine the number and needs of displaced people living in Malakal town is planned for later this week.

At least 646,500 people have been internally displaced across the whole of South Sudan since the onset of the crisis, with 76,000 seeking physical protection within UN bases. IOM is committed to continuing its support for those affected by the conflict.



International Office of Migration (IOM)


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