Aid Workers Reach Wau Shilluk After Access Restrictions Lifted-Off
Aid groups said it has started reaching restricted areas in South Sudan after access restrictions have been lifted from them in Wau Shilluk, Western Bank of the River Nile, Malakal amongst others.
Internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the UN protection of civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, Upper Nile State, South Sudan. [© IOM 2015]
By Jok P Mayom
JUBA, 31 March 2016 [Gurtong]- According to the Humanitarian update release this week, the aid group said their access from Malakal to the west bank of the River Nile by boat was reopened in mid-March following intensive access negotiations.
“….After nearly a month of restrictions, the Government reopened humanitarian access from Malakal to the west bank of the River Nile by boat mid-March following intensive access negotiations” reads the humanitarian bulletin.
Aid groups said on 16th March, an inter-agency team of 18 aid workers, both South Sudanese and international, travelled from Malakal to Wau Shilluk, delivering critical health and WASH supplies.
Humanitarian partners have since resumed regular delivery of assistance.
“Although humanitarian access restrictions have been lifted, freedom of movement for civilians has yet to be granted and families stranded on either side of the river bank are unable to be reunited” said aid workers.
At least 84 cases of family separation have been documented between the Malakal Protection of Civilians (PoC) site and Wau Shilluk.
A group of three siblings staying at Malakal PoC said to aid workers, “We miss our mother. She was sick when she went to Wau Shilluk more than a month ago. We have no idea why she can’t come back. We need nothing else, but our mother.”
The critical importance of family reunification was recently highlighted by families who were split during the fighting and fires in Malakal PoC on 17-18 February.
“There is nothing more painful than being separated from your child in war time, but there is nothing more joyful than reuniting a family in a war zone,” a mother who was recently reunified with her child in Malakal said to aid groups.
Ariane Quentier, UNMISS Spokesperson said on Wednesday at a press briefing that it has also been difficult for UNMISS to have access and support delivery of humanitarian aid.
Aid groups said, in the south of Mundri West County where clashes also broke-out in mid-February 2016, humanitarian partners managed to deliver food in Bari on 27 February and an inter-agency humanitarian team travelled to Mundri Town, Kotobi, Gariya, Landigwa and Bangolo from 2 to 4 March to deliver life-saving assistance and assess the situation.
Furthermore, in the western and southern parts of Wau town and surrounding villages - including Mboro, Kayango, Ngondo, Ngonjeko, Natabu and Ngomba were reported fighting in recent weeks, displacing tens of thousands of people.
“In Mboro, about 8,000 internally displaced people (IDP) stranded since February reportedly in need of urgent assistance were forced to flee when fighting escalated on 21 March. There are also unverified reports of around 10,000 to 12,000 IDPs further south in Suwe” said
Aid groups also said following fighting in February, about 30,000 people have reportedly been displaced in Pibor and Gumuruk counties, including about 2,300 people who fled to the protected site in Pibor.
“12 humanitarian partners on the ground in Pibor have been providing life-saving assistance to displaced people in the protected site, including access to safe water, emergency latrines and bathing areas, hygiene promotion to prevent disease outbreaks, distribution of high energy biscuits and other nutrition supplies for children under age 5, and medical treatment” said Aid groups as they reach Pibor.
However, South Sudan Government through its spokesperson Hon. Michael Makuei Lueth, Minister of Information has been denying the government involvement of blocking the humanitarian partners from delivering services to the needy.
Makuei reported that the government has been only doing the checking for security purposes.
UNMISS updates indicates that a total of 188,144 civilians are sheltering in Protection of Civilians sites (PoCs) including; UN House PoC I and III 27,950, Bentiu 116,538, Malakal 40,448 Melut 700, Bor 2,289 and Wau 219.