Dire Humanitarian Crisis Emerging in South Sudan, says UNICEF

In the wake of the ceasefire signed late last week, UNICEF is warning of a humanitarian crisis unfolding outside Bor town in Jonglei state, and other towns in South Sudan. Amid an outbreak of measles among children in the Protection of Civilian centers at the UN Mission in South Sudan camp, which caused at least 30 child deaths, UNICEF rushed in supplies overnight to vaccinate 4,000 children against measles and polio and supplied Vitamin A to boost children’s immune systems.

UNICEF and partners start vaccination campaign to protect children from diseases

NEW YORK (January 27, 2013)In the wake of the ceasefire signed late last week, UNICEF is warning of a humanitarian crisis unfolding outside Bor town in Jonglei state, and other towns in South Sudan.

Amid an outbreak of measles among children in the Protection of Civilian (PoC) centers at the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp, which caused at least 30 child deaths, UNICEF rushed in supplies overnight to vaccinate 4,000 children against measles and polio and supplied Vitamin A to boost children’s immune systems. Few humanitarian agencies have been able to gain access to the population of Bor that fled the fighting to seek protection in the PoC center in Bor. Grave insecurity means only a limited number of aid workers are able to operate within the center.  

A team of five health officials from UNICEF stayed overnight in the Bor camp to distribute vaccines and train 10 teams of local vaccinators to immunize at least 4,000 children in the cramped and overcrowded camp.

“Children have survived violent conflict only to face the risk of dying in appalling conditions — and if we can’t reach them with humanitarian aid, that risk will increase dramatically,” said Dermot Carty, UNICEF’s Deputy Director of Emergency Programs.

Bor is just 140 kilometers from Juba but the road has been at the frontline of the South Sudan conflict. The health infrastructure in Bor, as in other parts of the country, has been largely destroyed or supplies have been looted.

The immunization campaign kicked off after two plane loads carrying 70 tons of urgently needed supplies for children and women were chartered by UNICEF and flew into Juba this week. The planes brought in medical supplies, cold chain equipment, treatment for malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea and malnutrition, as well as nutrients, vitamins, antibiotics and pain-killers for children. The supplies also include midwifery and obstetric surgery kits, water and sanitation equipment, blankets, tents and tarpaulins for shelter.  

Immunization campaigns are also underway in camps for the displaced in Juba. In total, UNICEF and its partners aim to vaccinate 180,000 children under the age of 15 against measles and polio.

UNICEF still needs $32 million to meet the immediate needs for the South Sudan crisis.

The numbers of displaced increased rapidly; at least half a million people are now estimated to have left their homes. Nearly 70,000 of those displaced within the country have taken refuge in UNMISS PoC centers. Some 86,000 are reported to have fled to neighboring countries, the majority of whom are women and children.

###

About UNICEF
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.  

For additional information, please contact:

Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, smasur@unicefusa.org