Aid Finally Reaches Marginalised Thousands in South Sudan

Aid ( File Photo).

After over a year of access constraints, humanitarian partners have finally reached thousands of people in the Greater Baggari area in Wau County, Western Bahr el Ghazal, with life-saving food, nutrition services, health care, household items, and hygiene and sanitation assistance.

Humanitarian agencies had been blocked from accessing this area since mid-2016. After numerous negotiations, access was granted in March 2017, but partners could access the area only by air. After that, access restrictions continued.

Extensive access negotiations gave humanitarian workers the opportunity to travel to the area to assess the kind of humanitarian response needed after reports of people dying of hunger-related causes due to a food crisis driven by late rains, insecurity and poor harvests in Baggari and Bessilia areas.

The teams on the ground witnessed significantly high malnutrition; with high rates of severe acute malnutrition and visible signs of body stress in adults as well as cases of oedema. Other priority needs of the displaced people include health care, clean water and non-food items.

In August, partners distributed hygiene promotion items, delivered medical supplies and drugs and conducted a vaccination campaign in Mboro, Ngissa, Ngobendego, Ngodakala and Farajallah in Wau County. Humanitarians estimate that about 20,000 people live in the area.

On 19 September, 900 children under age 5 were screened for malnutrition in Mboro and 1,429 in Farajallah. Over 16,600 people (4,000 in Mboro and 12,683 in Farajallah) received food rations.

All children found with severe and moderate acute malnutrition received treatment. Partners also distributed seeds, farming tools and fishing kits to 5,200 households during the mission.

Despite the response mission, lack of respect for humanitarian personnel and assets remains a serious concern across Western Bahr el Ghazal, and continues to impact aid operations. On 16 September, government security agents arrested staff from two NGOs in Raja, allegedly because the vehicle that took nutrition supplies to Raja left without clearance. The two aid workers were released the following day. Three individuals working for a humanitarian organization were arrested on 15 August while conducting food security and nutrition monitoring surveys, and they remain in detention in Baggari area. Partners continue to investigate the circumstances of the arrest and to negotiate for their release.