4 May 2017
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Credit: OCHA/G.Connell

Fighting has forced thousands of civilians to flee from multiple locations in South Sudan’s Upper Nile region, including Tonga and Kodok, amidst fears of the clashes spreading. Thousands of people have arrived in Aburoc, weak and exhausted after walking for days on foot. There are reports of people also moving to Sudan fearing potential attacks.

The situation deteriorated in the second week of April, as a Government offensive swept through multiple villages on the west bank of the River Nile, including in areas where fighting had previously flared up in late January and early February.

On 23 and 24 April, humanitarian organizations relocated 32 staff from Kodok and Aburoc as conflict spread. Several courageous local staff remain in the community and are doing all they can to assist people in need. However, key humanitarian assets were looted in the clashes.

The UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated $15.5 million to support humanitarian response in locations where famine or elevated risk of famine has been declared - as well as urgent needs in areas of new or active conflict conflict, such in Aburuc, where the recently released funds will support the scale-up of emergency operations in locations where there is new displacement. The allocation is helping an estimated 369,000 people most at risk in Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Unity and Upper Nile. The CERF contribution will enable humanitarian partners to scale up response, particularly through vital funding for procurement, transportation and distribution of emergency supplies, including inter-cluster rapid response survival kits. It will also facilitate the transportation of cargo and humanitarian personnel.

Access to safe water is vital for thousands of civilians who have arrived in Aburoc fearing for their lives. Credit: OCHA/G.Connell

“This operation [in Aburoc] is the true definition of life-saving,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for South Sudan, Serge Tissot. “I therefore call on both parties to ensure immediate, free and unhindered humanitarian access to civilians, wherever they may flee, including for trucks to safely access the river and carry water to locations where [internally displaced persons] are sheltering.”

The allocation is part of CERF's overall efforts to prevent famine in those countries that are over or at the tipping point of famine. In total, CERF is allocating 118 million to advert a humanitarian catastrophe in north-east Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.