Refugees fleeing South Sudan violence helped by Plan

by Plan UK | Plan UK
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 17:38 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Children’s charity Plan International has begun helping thousands of people who have fled the ongoing violence in South Sudan.

Many have been forced into surrounding countries, including Sudan and Uganda - where Plan is providing support and services.

“Plan is responding to a significant influx of refugees into South Sudan’s neighbouring states,” says Acting Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Hazel Nyathi.

“Plan will be providing water and sanitation services, child protection and emergency education in the camps that have been set up in those countries.”

Plan has expressed concern about the escalating humanitarian situation but says it is currently limited inside the country due to the rising violence and lack of safe access to some areas.

The charity’s offices in rebel-occupied Bor, a town in the northern state of Jonglei, have been looted, with vehicles and other items taken.

Plan says basic services are scarce, with supplies running out, and a looming fuel crisis in the capital Juba.

Acting country director Resom Habtegabriel says children are at particular risk if they become separated from their families as they flee the violence – and lack of water and sanitation is also a problem.

“We are very concerned, particularly for women and children. Many civilians are on the move, leaving the country, and at the border of Uganda there is already a huge flock of people waiting to go through.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and are constantly in touch with the teams in Juba and safer places,” he adds.

Clashes broke out between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and others backing his former deputy Riek Machar on the 15th of Dec 2013.

President Salva Kiir has accused Machar of attempting a coup. Machar denies the accusation.

UN reinforcements arrived in the capital on Friday 27 December, as the government said it had agreed to a ceasefire with the rebels. But on Saturday rebel leader Riek Machar has said there must be proper negotiations before the rebels can agree to a truce with the government.

More than 120,000 people have already arrived at the UN compounds in Juba, Bor, Malakal and Bentiu. Across the country, an estimated 194,000 people have been displaced, according to UNOCHA.

The UN says there is an atmosphere of fear and desperation as people look for safety, protection, water and sanitation facilities.

Plan has been operating in South Sudan since 2006 working with more than 20,000 children. Its work focuses on food security and nutrition, education, child protection and humanitarian support.