Aid agencies urgently responding to unprecedented conflict at UN Protection of Civilians site

Juba, South Sudan: Tens of thousands of South Sudanese are living in dire conditions and extreme fear after the torching and destruction of most of a UN Protection of Civilian (POC) site that was designed to safeguard them.  This followed an outbreak of violence at the site that led to the deaths of at least 18 people and the injury of scores of others.

Aid agency World Vision is warning that some 30,000 people, an estimated half of them children, are now living in the open on the site and in nearby Malakal town. World Vision has been responding by providing emergency food aid, water and sanitation, and child protection services but says that site residents are facing unbelievable hardship and are now more vulnerable to further attacks. 

The POC in Malakal is designated an UN protection zone for around 48,000 displaced South Sudanese. They fled there after years of violence drove them from their nearby homes.  Last week, ethnic conflict led to the burning of over a thousand shelters that site residents were living in.

Jeremiah Nathaniel Young, Policy and Advocacy Advisor, for World Vision South Sudan, said: “The situation in and around Malakal is very tense. Thousands of children and their families who were already living in very poor conditions within the UN protection site are now living in even greater need and with real uncertainty about their safety.”

Young said: “We urge all parties of the conflict to de-escalate the tension and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need.”

Since the incident, World Vision has been distributing food aid to thousands of people, reaching over 13,300 individuals with 181 tons of various food commodities, including the provision of over 4 metric tons of ready to eat, high energy meals to over than 1,300 children under the age of five.  

Young said displaced families had lost everything and needed urgent access to shelter, food, water and basic household items to survive over the coming weeks.  

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