PARIANG, South Sudan, March 12 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency and its partners have over the past fortnight distributed aid to more than 11,000 forcibly displaced people in South Sudan's Pariang County, one of the areas worst hit by the fighting that erupted last December in the country.
UN estimates the number of displaced in the seven districts of Pariang, which is located in Unity state, at about 20,000. "So far, we have given aid to 11,482 displaced people and we hope to reach the rest [of the 20,000] by the end of this month," said Cleophas Mubangizi, head of UNHCR's sub-office at Jam Jang in Unity state.
"It was necessary that we respond promptly to help the people of Pariang restart their lives," stressed Gilbert Anyama, a UNHCR supply assistant. He said UNHCR distributed aid taken from stockpiles in the Unity camps of Yida and Ajuong Thok, home to nearly 80,000 refugees from Sudan.
The aid included plastic sheeting, jerry cans, buckets, kitchen sets, mosquito nets, sleeping mats and blankets. The World Food Programme with its local partner has distributed 80 tons of food and plans to hand out another 95 tons.
Those who have received their aid were very grateful. "Words can't tell how grateful we are to UNHCR for the items provided to us," said 70-year-old Maria, who thought she and her grandchildren were going to die when the fighting came to their village on December 20.
"The shooting began at dawn when I was asleep in our hut with my daughter and two grandchildren," she recalled. "Despite finding it difficult to walk, I grabbed my grandchildren and told my daughter to follow us as we ran with the bullets whizzing around," added Maria, who feared for the health of the children in the bush as the rainy season approached.
The displaced comprised mainly women, children and older people as the youth stayed behind to try and protect their territory. "We walked for six hours with children before reaching safety," said mother-of-four Ayom, who also received food and non-food aid.
Meanwhile, plans are under way for UNHCR and its inter-agency partners in camp management to construct a site in Pariang County for the internally displaced. The facility should ease the delivery of humanitarian assistance and services to the displaced until a durable solution is achieved.
Unity state has the largest concentration of displaced people in South Sudan with more than 186,000 people uprooted by the fighting, followed by Jonglei state with 145,700. The crisis has also forced more than 130,000 people to flee the country.
By Dew Sunday Majak in Pariang, South Sudan