Displaced by fighting in Tambura county, thousands starving in South Sudan camps

People are encamped in Ezo border town due to violence in Western Equatoria state

Benjamin Takpiny   | 15.11.2021
Displaced by fighting in Tambura county, thousands starving in South Sudan camps File Photo

JUBA, South Sudan

Thousands of people who escaped violence in South Sudan's Western Equatoria state are starving as humanitarian aid in camps in Ezo town is insufficient to meet their basic needs.

Officials said at least 15 people have died of hunger in the IDP camps since October, and they are concerned about the rest who are unable to feed themselves because of relief assistance shortage.

In June, fighting broke out in Tambura county between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition, and Gen. James Nando's South Sudan People's Defense Forces, forcing over 80,000 people to evacuate for safety.

The majority of them relocated to Ezo town, which is located near the border of Congo.

Nando is a former opposition commander, who joined President Salva Kiir.

"We have 45,000 IDPs from Tambura, which is a large number, and none of them have enough food to eat. They are starving since they left all of their belongings and food in Tambura," Ezo County Commissioner Charles Abel Sudani told Anadolu Agency.

"Yes, I have reports that 15 people died of hunger, six of whom are children and the rest are elderly people," Abel said, adding that he is concerned over other IDPs who are malnourished.

He estimated that the number of deaths exceeded 30 due to a combination of diseases and hunger, as other IDPs are in "payams," a term used locally for sub-counties or small communities.

"We are losing people on a daily basis, and the medicines are insufficient," he said.

Sudani thanked humanitarian organizations for coming to their support, but lamented that the assistance provided so far has been inadequate to meet the needs of everyone.

If more humanitarian aid is not delivered, the affected IDPs would continue to die of starvation and other preventable ailments, he warned.

The state's Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) has also confirmed the deaths.

“A woman collapsed and died when she was carrying shelter materials to the new site. Two old men died who had been without food for a long time ... Three households came asking me in the office to support them with food or else talk to NGOs concerned with food to supply them as soon as possible,” RRC Coordinator Siani Martin said in the report seen by Anadolu Agency.

“The situation is terrible now," he wrote, adding that he heard some IDPs have started moving back to Tambura because of the crisis.

Meanwhile, Joseph Salvatore, the commission's chairman, said that despite delays, the UN World Food Program and World Vision, a global humanitarian organization, will be delivering food aid.

He said the state government is preparing to provide IDPs land and seeds, and farm equipment has already been distributed such that they can begin cultivating and eventually ensure that they have enough food to survive.

According to some of the displaced persons who spoke to Anadolu Agency, life has been rough since they left their homes and came to Ezo.

"People are dying of hunger," Mary, who introduced herself only by her first name, said. "Since we arrived here, we've relied solely on humanitarian aid, which is insufficient to cover all of us."

The food we receive for the entire month is often insufficient for a week or two, she complained.

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