WHO pic

WHO strengthens surveillance, alert and response using an innovative electronic system in South Sudan

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) has rolled out an electronic surveillance system called Early Warning, Alert and Response System (EWARS) to enhance the collection, management and analysis of Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) data.

The overall objective of the web based system is to overcome the reporting challenges of the transmission of paper-based standardized data tools and strengthen surveillance and response capacities and ultimately reduce morbidity and mortality from epidemic prone diseases as well as other public health events.

The system is designed for real-time information sharing using mobile phones and triggers automated alerts when disease thresholds are exceeded and are received by email, on the phone and within the application.  It allows prompt response and documents the results of risk assessments and outbreak investigations. The system also permits Epidemiological Bulletins and other information products to be published automatically.

“EWARS is a project led by the WHO Health Emergencies Programme (WHE). It can be deployed immediately after the onset of an outbreak and rapidly configured with minimal expertise,” said Dr Joseph Wamala, Epidemiologist, WHO Country Office South Sudan. “It is designed for frontline users, and built to operate in difficult and remote environments.”

Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) strengthening Since 2006, South Sudan has implemented the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) strategy with WHO’s technical support and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) financial commitment.  The IDSR strategy provides a framework for strengthening the national disease surveillance system in compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 core capacity requirements. In 2015, the EWARS supported by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), was introduced to complement and enhance IDSR effectiveness in the conflict-affected States.

“Strengthening surveillance is one of the key objectives of WHO’s strategic and operational response plan in South Sudan,” said Dr Abdulmumini Usman, the WHO Representative to South Sudan. “Since 2013, the implementation of the EWARS project in conflict affected areas supported the three key functions of IDSR: Surveillance, Alert and Outbreak Response,” Dr Usman added.

A total of 108 alerts were investigated in 2017, out of which 18 outbreaks were confirmed and effectively responded to. Theses outbreaks include cholera, measles and chickenpox.

To improve IDSR performance and roll-out the system to other States in the country especially famine and cholera affected areas, WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Health trained 80 County (district) surveillance officers. Each was provided with a mobile phone with the EWARS application installed, allowing them to submit IDSR reports immediately to State and National level and verify any alerts that are triggered. Surveillance officers from 10 hubs were also trained on the laptop version of the application, so they can closely monitor performance in each county and support risk assessment and outbreak investigations where needed.

EWARS also supports active reporting during disease outbreaks, and is being used to report case-based cholera data in all counties affected by the ongoing outbreak.  With immediate effect, this allows counties to report cholera cases using mobile phones and then view and analyse the results in real-time at County, State and National level.

A single IDSR bulletin is now published by the system each week – integrating data from surveillance, alert and response, and presenting the results in automated tables, graphs and maps. This is crucial to permit Ministry of Health and WHO to effectively lead the response to the cholera outbreak and other health emergencies.

The second phase of the roll-out of the project is planned for August-September, where support will be decentralized further down to health facility level. It will also see the integration of the public health laboratory network as well as integration with other sources of data including nutritional surveillance, acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and measles case-based surveillance; and community based integrated disease surveillance.

Related links:

More information on the EWARS project can be found at http://ewars-project.org or by writing to info@ewars.ws

For more information please contact:

Dr Wamala Joseph Francis, +211955036445, wamalaj@who.int

Dr Christopher Haskew, +41 22 791 32 36, haskewc@who.int

Ms Jemila M. Ebrahim, +211950450007, ebrahimj@who.int

Mingkaman (John Rae)

Joint Press Release: UNOPS and Japan launch river transport feasibility study

31 May 2017 – Juba, South Sudan – The Government of Japan and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) South Sudan Operations Centre (SSOC) are working on a study to determine the potential of a river barge transport system in South Sudan, which could open up new and more cost-efficient avenues for emergency humanitarian aid.

The USD 1 million project, funded by the Government of Japan and implemented by UNOPS, was officially launched on 1 April 2017 and will run until March 2018. The feasibility study will assess the potential of full-scale river barge transport system through conducting surveys of major existing ports along the Nile basin including Juba, Malakal and Melut, as well as assessing environmental impact on the Nile River between Juba and Renk.

“There is grave humanitarian need in South Sudan but road access to key humanitarian hubs is limited. Therefore, we are driven to think not only about what aid to provide, but also how to get aid to reach the most needy via the most efficient method,” says Kiya Masahiko, Ambassador of Japan to South Sudan. “South Sudan’s waterways, furthermore, have the potential not only as an avenue for aid delivery but also a springboard for the country’s development and prosperity, when peace arrives.”

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to partner with the Government of Japan to explore how we can improve development and humanitarian aid transport in South Sudan,” says then-UNOPS South Sudan Country Director, Paul Cruickshank. “Compared to air transport at the cost of approximately $2,500 per metric ton, barge transport offers significant savings at an average of $390 per metric ton – thus more resources can be used to assist the people of South Sudan.”

Japan and UNOPS have previously collaborated on a number of infrastructure projects in South Sudan, including facilitating humanitarian access through construction of a USD $4.1 million port facility in Mingkaman, Awerial. The new port, inaugurated in April 2016, provides off-loading and storage capacity at one of the largest spontaneous IDP settlement sites in South Sudan.

For further information please contact:

Shinobu Mashima, Project Manager, UNOPS South Sudan Operations Centre
Cell: +211 (0)959 000 648 Email: shinobum@unops.org

Koji Ito, Economic Affairs & Development Cooperation, Embassy of Japan in South Sudan
Cell: +211 (0)956 481 145 Email: koji.ito-2@mofa.go.jp

Participants during the conference to counter hate speech in South Sudan

South Sudan holds first roundtable conference to counter hate speech

Under the theme “countering hate speech whilst defending freedom of expression and press freedom” and ahead of the World Press Freedom Day which is commemorated every 3rd of May, UNESCO office in Juba hosted the first roundtable conference on Countering Hate Speech for Peace in South Sudan. The conference took place at Juba Grand Hotel in South Sudan capital Juba on 2 May 2017.

More than 200 delegates who attended the conference were drawn from academia, CSOs, online activists, youth organisations, representatives of traditional media, media development organisations representatives, government representatives, UN agencies, diplomatic missions and various actors and stakeholders who have in different ways looked into various aspects of hate speech which is increasingly of concern and is associated with incitement of violence in South Sudan.

The Undersecretary Ministry of Information, Communication, Technology and Postal Services Mr.  Justine Alier De Mayen who officiated the event reminded the delegates that freedom of expression is a human right that everyone must enjoy but there is need to ensure that freedom of one must not infringe the right of others too.

He advised that South Sudanese should learn from the quote of Mahatma Gandhi that “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” De Mayen made a reference that hate speech has destroyed many countries – citing examples such as Rwanda genocide. De Mayen noted that not only illiterate people spreading hate speech but also elite group and politicians are equally involved in spreading hate speech. He urges for the print media and broadcast to guard against all forms of hate speech.

The Undersecretary urged journalists to educate themselves and the masses on the dangers of hate speech.  “We are in a society with a big number of illiteracy rate, understanding the meaning of hate speech correctly would answer some of our questions and would enhance our national dialogue at this particular period the country is heading for it, “said De Mayen.

UNESCO representative to South Sudan, Mr. Sardar Umar Alam told the delegates that digital technologies have opened new avenues for freedom of expression, offering new opportunities to produce, consume and share content but also cautioned if not properly they can be used to facilitate the spread of online hate speech, extremist propaganda leading some to argue for tough and regulatory responses but combating these ills should not be at the expense of freedom of expression. “There is a fine line between free speech and hate speech.  Free speech encourages debate whereas hate speech incites violence” said Mr Alam.

Mr. Alam told the participants that UNESCO will facilitate a series of dialogues, capacity building workshops as well as conferences to assess the challenges of hate speech from different dimensions and see how best it can be countered.

Speaking  at the same occasion  was Mr. Christian Stephane  Mikala, a Senior Human Rights Officer at UNMISS Human Rights Division  who applauded  UNESCO for organising platforms which in the medium and long term will help contextualize the language, the expressions and help review their use and misuse based on facts, actions, impact and perceptions. Mikala said there is casual relationships s between online and offline hate speech and actual violence and human rights violations and urged actors to come up with home grown solutions applicable for South Sudan context.

Conference participants agreed that media can play a central role in conflict and crisis situations and that independent, objective, neutral media can help defuse tension, promote dialogue and counter hate speech in order to contain conflicts. Speakers tasked to interrogate the theme “Promoting the media potential as a catalyser of peace and mutual understanding” urged all media stakeholders in South Sudan and in diaspora to offer counter narratives to challenge violence incitement and urge the government of South Sudan to ensure proportionately responses to counter hate speech in a way that will not curtail freedom of expression and press freedom.

The conference also examined existing proactive and reactive responses to the proliferation of hate speech and offered  insights on attempts to provide structural answers to hate speech through education Community  Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), Peace Tech Lab Africa and analysed series of countering hate speech initiatives targeting the youth by #defyhatenow and #Anataban campaigns.

Panellists and delegates concluded the conference by underscoring the importance of coming up with a comprehensive and systematic approach for all stakeholders to sensitise South Sudan communities about the danger of hate speech.

UNESCO organised the conference in partnership with the Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), Association of Women Media in South Sudan (AMWISS) South Sudan National Editors Forum (NEF), Union of Journalists in South Sudan (UOJSS), Catholic Radio Network (CRN) Ministry of Information, Communication Technology and Postal Services, Peace Tech Lab Africa, #defyhatenow, CEPO,  #Anataban, US Embassy, USAID, German Embassy, Office of the President, Eye Radio, EBC TV/Radio, Radio Miraya,  Juba Monitor,  UN Human Rights UNMISS, South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, Journalists for Human Rights, JMEC,  Center for Human Rights Lawyers, Ajo & Co Advocate, CEPO, South Sudan Law Society,  Sudd Institute and  UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa with the generous financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency(SIDA) , Internews in South Sudan and Norwegian People’s Aid(NPA).

For information on how to join the working group on “Prevention and Countering Hate Speech whilst defending freedom of expression and press freedom in South Sudan, please contact:

Ms. Mwatile Ndinoshiho
Communication and Information Specialist
UNESCO Office in Juba
Tel: +211 922 000 563
Email: n.mwatile@unesco.org


Panellists discussing safety mechanisms for journalists during 2017 WPFD event in Juba

2017 World Press Freedom Day – Freedom of expression to promote peaceful, Just and Inclusive South Sudan

The Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), Association of Women Media in South Sudan (AMWISS) South Sudan National Editors Forum (NEF), Union of Journalists in South Sudan (UOJSS), Ministry of Information, Communication Technology and Postal Services and local media stakeholders with support from UNESCO commemorated 2017 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) on 3 May 2017 at Juba Grand Hotel  under the theme “Freedom of Expression to Promote Peaceful, Just and Inclusive societies”.

Speaking during the World Press Freedom Day celebration in Juba, Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) to South Sudan, Ambassador Stefano De Leo affirmed the commitment of the EU to work in South Sudan as one of the development partners to promote media development.  He emphasised the need to support media in South Sudan in order to provide quality and independent journalism. He said that the EU commends the government of South Sudan of enacting three legislations to regulate the work of media in her three years of independence. At the same time, Ambassador De Leo condemned whatever form of threats against journalists while doing their work and called the authorities to ensure safe conditions for all media practitioners in South Sudan.

In his remarks UNESCO Representative to South Sudan, Mr. Sardar Umar Alam said that for a successful national dialogue and true reconciliation, combined efforts are critical to provide all South Sudanese with quality journalism which will enable citizens to make informed decisions about their society development. “This can only happen when there is enabling environment when journalists can work independently without interference and in safe conditions”, said Mr. Alam.

Offering an overview of the media landscape and safety of journalists in the country, deputy chairperson of the Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) Ms. Mary Ajith stated that in line with the advocacy work, to ensure that the freedom of expression, press and speech is promoted, on the 31st of March 2017, her organization petitioned the President of the Republic of South Sudan, His Excellency Salva Kiir, to reopen the following closed media houses: The Citizen Newspaper; The Nation Mirror; Al aria Newspaper, Altabeer and Free voice, and appealed for the release of the journalists who were in detention.

“Today we are pleased to announce that His Excellency President Salva Kiir responded positively by ordering for the release of one Journalist John Pantheer just one week after AMDISS presented their petition”, acknowledged Ms. Ajith.  She called for the release of George Livio, a journalist who is still under detention and the reopening of the closed media houses for them to join the rest of the South Sudanese in the national dialogue.

However, AMDISS expressed worries about the trend of National Security Personnel deployed at newspapers printing companies to ensure that anything that criticize or doesn’t suit the government interest is removed. “We are in a very critical situation whereby some institutions of government are monitoring the media in support of the government interest of silencing the journalists in telling the truth and balancing the stories.” Ms. Ajith argued.

The event also provided an opportunity to present key findings of the survey “Supporting Safety of Journalists in South Sudan” – an assessment based on UNESCO Journalists’ Safety Indicators (JSI).  The research  commissioned by the Union of Journalists in South Sudan and carried out by the Africa Media Initiative (AMI) is divided  into five key indicator categories, namely: a broad overview of the safety situation in the country; findings on the roles and response of State and political actors; the roles and response of civil society organizations (CSOs) and academia; the roles and response of media and intermediaries; and the roles and response of the United Nations (UN) system and other extra-national actors with a presence in the country for the period 2015-2016.

According to research key findings, South Sudan has legal protection for the freedom of expression and the media and her Constitution guarantees media freedom. However, defamation is regarded as criminal in the penal code and there are clauses in National Security Service Act, 2014, and the Media Authority Act, 2013 that limit press freedom and freedom of expression.

Although the research pointed out falling levels of press freedom and increased state and media censorship as well as state and media houses failure to provide special protections to media practitioners, with South Sudan Media Authority now in place, its managing director Mr. Elijah Alier pledged his organisation support to all efforts to support safety of journalists and called media development donors stakeholders to support the operationalisation and full implementation of the Media Authority Act of 2013.

The Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS) says the safety of journalists in the country is of serious concern. “Journalists are not safe because the country is not safe. There is intimidation, there is harassment and there are arbitrary arrests of journalists but we look forward to work with all stakeholders for improved conditions of our journalists.” UJOSS Secretary-General Edward Terso said.

The event closed with awards to two journalists with best reports on human rights and corruption. Lasuba Memo from Eye Radio and Maura Ajak from CRN and their institutions were recipient of the awards organised over by CEPO and UJOSS.

Please see below links for coverage on 2017 WPFD activities in South Sudan.





Humanitarian Needs Spike for Thousands Displaced in Wau, South Sudan

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and partners are responding to an influx of more than 22,000 displaced persons in and around Wau town, South Sudan, since the upsurge of violence on 10 April 2017. The influx is stretching existing humanitarian resources, and space to shelter displaced families is running out. Needs in the area have remained high since clashes in mid-2016 displaced more than 42,000 people.

A population count on 21 April identified over 16,400 new internally displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering at the UN protection of civilians (PoC) site adjacent to the UN Mission’s South Sudan base, bringing the site’s total population to over 41,700 people. New arrivals are living in very crowded conditions in service areas, along roads and near drainage and sanitation facilities.

Over the weekend, IOM constructed emergency shelters in a contingency area to relocate families living in the most vulnerable areas. Additional water points and emergency shelters will be constructed in an area previously designated for food distributions, where most new arrivals have settled and built makeshift shelters.

Asunta and her family of five, including three children and her disabled mother, are one such family who, since last week, live in a shelter covered only by a bed sheet and along a crowded access road. “It took us two hours to walk here, carrying only a few things with us as we fled from our house,” she said.

Asunta’s family had been living in the PoC site from the beginning of fighting in late June 2016 until February 2017 when they decided to return to their house in town. However, fearful of the violence that occurred on 10 April, they once again left their home to seek protection at the PoC site.

The Cathedral collective centre also saw a large influx of IDPs over the past two weeks, with as many as 5,000 to 7,000 new arrivals moving to the site. An estimated 15,000 people are currently sheltering in the site.

Amid increased levels of need, relief agencies continue to provide safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health care and psychosocial support across the six displacement sites in Wau town. IOM’s primary health care clinics at the PoC site and Cathedral and Nazareth collective centres have seen a 46 per cent increase in consultations over the past week alone.

Of the more than 7.5 million people in South Sudan in need of humanitarian assistance, more than 4.9 million of them face severe food insecurity due to displacement, conflict and economic decline. Since the crisis erupted in December 2013, 3.4 million people have been displaced from their homes, including an estimated 1.9 million IDPs across the country.

For further information, please contact Ashley McLaughlin at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +211 912 379 793. Email: amclaughlin@iom.int.

Peace Marathon

Vice President James Wani Igga Calls for Women’s Participation in Building Peace During a Peace Marathon in South Sudan

With support from the government of Germany, Japan and Sweden, UN Women in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, the Grand Debaters Association, the UN Country Team and the private sector, MTN, organized a Grand Peace Marathon under the theme “Running for Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding.”

The event, whose aim is to promote peace and advocate for active women’s participation in peacebuilding, brought together 4,410 participants from diverse political affiliations, gender and ethnic backgrounds to compete in 5km and 10km races.

Speaking during the awards ceremony, H.E. James Wani Igga, the Vice President of Republic of  South Sudan, commended UN Women and partners for supporting sports as a vehicle for promoting peace and social cohesion. Sports overcomes mistrust, reduces tension and unites conflicting parties to rally around common purpose, Vice President Igga noted. He also said, “Peace is a concern for all of us and giving women the space for active participation will be meaningful in rebuilding peace in South Sudan.”

On her part, the Country Representative of UN Women, Ms. Funmi Balogun, indicated that women’s leadership and participation in peacebuilding is one of UN Women’s core mandate. She said, the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security highlights clearly the need for the UN, governments and development partners to support women’s leadership and their active participation in building peace and security, and helping their countries to recover from conflict.

“We have heard too many stories of women being the most affected by conflict, and while this is true, our intent here is to change that narrative of South Sudanese women as victims but as active participants in the affairs of their country,” Ms. Balogun added.

Hon. Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Dr. Nadia Arop Dudi, in her a brief remarks indicated that sports is a powerful  tool for promoting peace, and urged UN Women and partners to extend similar interventions in the counties to create awareness of the tremendous role women can play in building peace in South Sudan.

The Founder and CEO of Grand Debaters Association, Philip Malaak Chol, noted that women’s leadership and active participation in peacebuilding, including in the upcoming national dialogue is not only a smart idea but also the right thing to do to accelerate and sustain peace in South Sudan.

Susana Luka from Wau, who won the 5km race said “I am proud to lead the 5 km race. I hope more competitions would be organized in other parts of the country to give women and girls the opportunity to participate and identify their talents both in sports and peacebuilding.”

Humanitarian Coordinator demands immediate end to attacks on civilians, aid workers

Following a week which saw attacks against both aid workers and civilians, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Eugene Owusu, demanded that parties to the conflict uphold their responsibilities to protect civilians and ensure the safety and security of humanitarians.

“Over the past week, we have received reports of outrageous abuses against humanitarians by both state and opposition actors in Upper Nile, as well as reports of horrific attacks against civilians in Eastern Equatoria,” said Mr. Owusu. “These attacks are reprehensible and unacceptable. I call on those in power to take swift action to end the targeting of innocent people in this conflict and to hold those responsible to account.”

Two serious attacks were carried out against aid workers in Upper Nile since 31 March. In Aburoc, humanitarians were harassed and beaten by members of armed opposition forces, while in Melut, state security officials detained and beat two aid workers before releasing them.

“I condemn these attacks in the strongest terms,” said Mr. Owusu. “I demand that the leadership on both sides investigates these incidents with a view to holding the specific perpetrators to account, as well as ending the targeting of humanitarians in the future. Humanitarians are in this country to save lives. It is beyond reckoning that they continue to be killed, harassed and abused despite our repeated calls for action.”

Elsewhere, in Pajok, Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria, at least 6,000 people have been forced to flee to Uganda and reportedly several dozen have been killed, following an attack by government forces on the town. Thousands more are thought to be sheltering in the bushes in areas surrounding the town, which was estimated to be home to up to 50,000 people.

“I am appalled by the reports surfacing from people fleeing Pajok of their loved ones being killed and their homes being destroyed,” said Owusu. “I implore the leadership in South Sudan to rapidly investigate these allegations and to end all attacks against civilians.”

The humanitarian situation in South Sudan continues to deteriorate. More than 3.5 million people have now been forced to flee their homes, including nearly 1.9 million people who are internally displaced and more than 1.7 million who have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries. An average of 2,000 South Sudanese refugees are arriving into Uganda each day, over 62 per cent of whom are children.

Download the press statement here.

For more information, contact the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in South Sudan:
Frank Nyakairu, nyakairu@un.org / +211 922406012
Guiomar Pau Sole, pausole@un.org / +211 920100411

The incredible resilience of the people of South Sudan

Conflict has forced more than a quarter of the population of South Sudan to flee their homes, disrupted crop production and destroyed livestock. On 20 February 2017, famine was declared, which is already affecting 100 000 people, with a further 1 million people on the verge of famine. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, some 1.9 million people have become internally displaced and another 1.6 million people have crossed the borders as refugees.

One of the regions most affected by the crisis is Equatoria, which is also the region with the highest burden of HIV in South Sudan. Around 90% of the 20 000 people on antiretroviral therapy in South Sudan live in Equatoria, where conflict and food insecurity are pushing people across the border to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in their thousands daily, and out of reach of essential health services.

Many people living with HIV are among the refugees. Even when medicine is available, food insecurity is affecting their ability to take it regularly, as humanitarian agencies are struggling to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of people with very little funding.

The resilience of people living with HIV affected by the crisis is incredible, even in the most difficult of situations. John* is a refugee in a camp near Ajumani in Uganda and a member of the South Sudan Network of People Living with HIV.

“A number of us were running out of antiretroviral medicines, and where we are settled there are no health facilities providing HIV treatment,” said John. “So we put together the little money we had and sent one of us back to Nimule in South Sudan to collect medicines for all of us. Luckily the doctor allowed and we now have some medicines, but when they finish, what do we do?”

Whether displaced or not, the main problem facing people living with HIV in South Sudan is food insecurity. People in towns and cities are also affected, with the majority of vulnerable families only eating one meal a day, and some going without food for days.

Stigma and discrimination is making the situation even more acute, as women living with HIV are often abandoned and left destitute because of their HIV status. Jane, a young mother of three living with HIV in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, found out her HIV status when she was pregnant with her third baby. Her husband and family abandoned her and her children, two of whom are also living with HIV. Jane does not have full-time employment and is struggling for her and her children to have just one meal a day.

“These days we have to insist on one pill a day, as we only eat once a day, if we get food that day, and we cannot take these medicines on an empty stomach. Others have stopped taking the medicines because they have no food,” she said.

Despite facing numerous challenges in her life, Jane volunteers as a “mentor mother” to support prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV services. She says of her work, “I like doing this, because we are many out there, but we fear discrimination if we disclose our HIV status. But with counselling, some of us are disclosing our status.”

In the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS, Member States committed to pursuing the continuity of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support and to providing a package of care for people living with HIV, tuberculosis and/or malaria in humanitarian emergencies and conflict settings, as displaced people and people affected by humanitarian emergencies face multiple challenges, including heightened HIV vulnerability, risk of treatment interruption and limited access to quality health care and nutritious food. UNAIDS is working with countries to ensure that the commitment is met.

* Names have been changed.

Follow this story on UNAIDS website: 

SRSG Ellen Margrethe Loj, Deputy Minister of Finance Hon. Mary Jervis Yak (center) and D/SRSG Eugene Owusu at the launch in Juba.

Humanitarian Coordinator condemns killing of six aid workers

(Juba, 26 March 2017): The Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Eugene Owusu, has strongly condemned the killing of six aid workers in an ambush on 25 March. The aid workers were travelling from Juba to Pibor.

“I am appalled and outraged by the heinous murder yesterday of six courageous humanitarians in South Sudan,” said Mr. Owusu. “At a time when humanitarian needs have reached unprecedented levels, it is entirely unacceptable that those who are trying to help are being attacked and killed.”

The ambush – which represents the highest number of aid workers killed in a single incident since the conflict began – comes after two other grave attacks on aid workers this month. A humanitarian convoy was attacked in Yirol East on 14 March, while responding to a cholera outbreak in the area. Tragically, one health worker and one patient were killed and at least one other health worker was injured. Separately, during fighting in Mayendit town on 10 March, local staff of an international NGO were detained by non-state armed actors and released four days later. Already in March, there have been multiple instances of looting of aid supplies, including in two areas in Mayendit which are top priority locations for the famine response.

“These attacks against aid workers and aid assets are utterly reprehensible,” said Mr. Owusu. “They not only put the lives of aid workers at risk, they also threaten the lives of thousands of South Sudanese who rely on our assistance for their survival. For us to continue to provide life-saving relief to the civilians suffering immensely across this country, the safety and security of aid workers must be upheld, the impunity that has prevailed to date must end, and perpetrators must be held to account.”

At least 79 aid workers have been killed in South Sudan since the beginning of the December 2013 crisis, including at least 12 killed in 2017, and at least eight humanitarian convoys have been attacked already this year. Under International Humanitarian Law, intentional attacks against humanitarian relief personnel may constitute war crimes.

“I send my deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of those impacted by these abhorrent incidents,” said Mr. Owusu. “Every time an attack of this nature happens, we say that it must never happen again. And yet it does. I implore all those in positions of power to step up to their responsibilities and stop this, as they are ultimately accountable for what happens under their watch. There is no safety when attacks are met with silence and inaction.”

More than three years of conflict have taken a devastating toll on the people of South Sudan. Around 7.5 million people across the country are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection and localized famine has been declared in parts of Unity.

Download the press statement here.

For more information, contact the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in South Sudan:
Frank Nyakairu, nyakairu@un.org / +211 922406012
Guiomar Pau Sole, pausole@un.org / +211 920100411

Bentiu PoC site

Helping Treat Tuberculosis for South Sudan’s Displaced: Nyayian’s Story

Communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB), present huge risks to communities living in crowded displacement sites or on the run from conflict in South Sudan. For women like Nyayien, who has lived at the protection of civilians (PoC) site in Bentiu since May 2016, diseases are so rampant they often become more severe with the strain of displacement.

“I walked five days from my home in Koch with little food for the long journey. I was already feeling sick before I left; I was treated for malaria before I left but my cough persisted,” Nyayien recounted. By the time she reached the PoC site, she was severely depleted.

Nyayien was quickly referred to the IOM clinic, where technicians operate a TB testing and treatment laboratory. After she tested positive, she immediately began a six-month treatment, which involves daily visits to the IOM clinic for two months and then weekly for the next four months.

“I successfully completed my treatment thanks to my sister’s support and the good counselling given to me by IOM staff. They both gave me strength while coping up with treatment,” she said.

While sick, she worried that she would not be able support her family and was concerned about spreading the disease, as she lived with 12 family members in one single shelter. With good hygiene habits, she was able to mitigate this risk and is now feeling well enough to begin contributing financially to her household.

IOM health promoters canvas the site every day, urging IDPs with TB symptoms to not be apprehensive to visit health care providers in the site, as TB is a curable disease with consistent treatment.

Since IOM opened the TB treatment centre in January 2016, over 200 people have tested positive and begun the Directly Observed Treatment (DOT) course, with over 60 TB patients have successfully completed the treatment.

With over 118,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering in the PoC site, the spread of TB is a major concern for public health. Aggressive health and hygiene messaging, along with timely medical care, are absolutely critical to mitigating the spread of the disease and reducing the stigma.

IOM also offers TB testing and treatment for the community in Bentiu town and surrounding areas.

More than 7.5 million people in South Sudan are in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 1.9 million IDPs and millions facing severe food insecuiry. IOM migration health programmes aim to reach the most vulnerable populations across the country, including displacement sites and remote locations.

For further information, please contact IOM South Sudan. Ashley McLaughlin, amclaughlin@iom.int.