Some 70,000 people fleeing fighting in Bor, in South Sudan’s Jonglei State, have already arrived in the town of Awerial, in neighbouring Lakes State, seeking shelter, and thousands more are arriving each day. The area has nowhere near the capacity to absorb all the new arrivals, however. Living conditions are verging on the catastrophic, and there is an urgent need for increased medical and humanitarian assistance.
“The situation for these women and children is very alarming,” says Aurélie Dupont, the emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Awerial. “They have fled their homes and have arrived here with few belongings. There is no clean water, no food, and no place to shelter or sleep. They are relying solely on the help of the local population.”
MSF’s emergency team is supporting the two Ministry of Health clinics that are still functioning by providing consultations and supplies of medicines. Other top priorities for MSF include providing clean drinking water to prevent cases of diarrhea, vaccinating children against measles, and providing obstetric care for pregnant women. Another major concern is the provision of food, which needs to be scaled up urgently.
“The potential for disease is enormous,” says David Nash, MSF’s head of mission in South Sudan, “and yet the humanitarian response in Lakes state has been very small. There is an urgent need for clean water, latrines and waste management.
"We urgently need other organizations to step up and provide humanitarian aid as more and more people flee the violence.”
MSF is deploying additional emergency teams to reinforce existing activities and to respond to needs as they arise. MSF’s medical activities continue to operate in all 12 of its programs across the country.
MSF has been working in the region that today constitutes the Republic of South Sudan since 1983. MSF works in eight of South Sudan’s ten states and responds to emergency situations including large-scale displacement, refugee influxes, alarming nutrition situations and outbreaks of disease, in addition to providing basic and specialist health care services.