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South Sudan: difficulty reaching people

Thousands of people in South Sudan need our help. But, because of fighting we can’t get to them. This makes it extremely difficult to understand the scale of the needs there, let alone deliver much-needed aid. The longer we are unable to reach people, the greater the risk of disease, hunger and death.

A makeshift shelter at the UN base in Bentiu, which is now home to some 8,000 people. Concern Worldwide has deployed to water and sanitation experts to Bentiu to promote access to water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Evacuating Bentiu

Since opposition forces took over Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, the area has been almost completely inaccessible. People were forced to leave their homes and our staff there had no choice but to evacuate.

Immediate needs

On 5 January, three weeks since our team in Bentiu was forced to leave, our country director in South Sudan, Elke Liedel, managed to travel to Bentiu. She was accompanied by colleagues from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and other charity partners. Together, they were able to assess the needs of people there.

Providing assistance

So far, as many as 8,000 people are living in makeshift shelters in the UN base in Bentiu, having fled their homes to escape the fighting. They are relying on the few charities there to provide food and other basic essentials.

At risk

Sanitation is a big concern: people are using the river that borders the camp for bathing, washing and drinking. There are 16 latrines in the camp; all are in extremely poor condition. So much so, that most people are choosing to go to the toilet outside instead. This increases the risk of disease.

Tragic reality

Since Elke visited Bentiu, the security situation has already changed dramatically. Fighting has started once again, making it impossible to deploy water and sanitation experts. Roads to many other areas remain impassable too. This means that the very real threats of disease, hunger, and death will increase by the day as people are denied much-needed assistance simply because we cannot reach them. 

We’ll continue to monitor the situation and hope that a ceasefire can be reached soon.

In depth

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