IOM relocates 6,000 IDPs to ease overcrowding in Wau

IOM is improving living conditions for internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the crowded Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Wau, South Sudan. Hosting more than 30,000 IDPs, the Wau PoC site adjacent to the UN peacekeeping base is the most congested displacement camp in the country.

Camp management conducted a relocation exercise from 26 January to 20 February, helping more than 6,000 IDPs move from the most congested areas into over 800 units in 176 communal shelters constructed by IOM teams. Households continue to access common services within the site, such as clinics managed by IOM, International Medical Corps and Médecins Sans Frontières.

Beginning in late 2016, IOM, as camp manager, began developing an extension area to ease congestion and enable families to move away from shelters that were either close to latrines or teetering near drainage ditches. Teams cleared and levelled 40,000m2 of land adjacent to the existing site, installed drainage and water points and constructed roads and pedestrian crossings, in order to facilitate the move.

The day after Rosa, a young mother of six, relocated to a new shelter, she said: “We are so much happier here in this shelter. I can cook outside and there is fresh air because we are not right next to the latrines. My children even have space to play.” Due to ongoing fears of insecurity, Rosa says she intends to stay in the PoC site until the crisis ends.

“The extension is also improving conditions for those who remain in the old areas of the site,” explains Kevin Merkelz, IOM Camp Management Officer for the Wau site. “We were able to open up wide avenues to improve safety and make space for dozens of badly needed showers and latrines. This also allowed us to empty six classrooms that had been occupied since the start of the crisis so that they could be used once again for educating the children displaced by the conflict.”

The PoC site was an empty plot of land before fighting broke out in Wau, a relatively calm area before a rapid escalation of insecurity in late June 2016. The site swelled quickly as displaced families rushed to safety.

Today, over 45,900 people are sheltered in the PoC site and other displacement centres, like churches, across Wau town. Thousands more have been affected by the crisis in areas south of Wau, but relief agencies have faced extreme difficulty accessing these populations since early July.

Resources have been further stretched as IOM and other aid agencies respond to an influx of more than 5,000 newly displaced people, who have arrived at collective centres in Wau town since early February due to insecurity in Jur River County. IOM teams are distributing relief items and coordinating to provide access to clean water and other services.

Over 7.5 million people in South Sudan today are in dire need of humanitarian assistance due to a devastating crisis that has displaced over 3 million people since 2013. The scale of humanitarian needs is unprecedented, with UN agencies announcing on 20 February that an estimated 100,000 people are facing famine conditions due to war and a failing economy. As IOM continues to provide aid to the most vulnerable, it remains extremely concerned by the ongoing violence in the country and deepening impact on civilians caught in the crisis.

For further information, please contact Ashley McLaughlin at IOM South Sudan, Tel: +211 922 405 716, Email: amclaughlin@iom.int.

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