Ceasefire in South Sudan welcomed but many still need assistance

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South Sudanese refugees waiting in line to get food at the Dzaipi transit centre in Uganda.© UNHCR/F.Noy

Aid agencies have welcomed the signing of a ceasefire between South Sudan government and rebel forces, but say thousands of displaced people are still in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

United Nations refugee agency UNHCR expressed hope that the ceasefire will be implemented quickly to avert further displacement within and outside South Sudan.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said the recent violence has disrupted the livelihood’s of thousands of South Sudanese who will require food assistance for months to come.

Since the outbreak of fighting in mid-December, some 490,000 South Sudanese have been internally displaced and more than 100,000 have fled into neighbouring Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan.

WFP spokesperson in Geneva Elisabeth Byrs says the provision of food to those in need was being hampered by the frequent looting of food stocks.

"But it is important to note that humanitarian needs will continue to rise even long after the fighting stops. Humanitarian access and looting of food stocks are major concerns for WFP. As a result of looting sof WFP facilities around the country we estimate that we may have lost more than 3,700 metric tons of food – enough to feed more than 220,000 people for a month. We are doing what we can to protect other food stocks and also we are trying to recover lost stocks where possible. WFP’s warehouses in Malakal have been almost entirely emptied by repeated incidents of looting."

In the meantime an outbreak of measles has been confirmed among South Sudanese refugees who crossed into northern Uganda.

The UN refugee agency in collaboration with the Uganda Minister of health is starting a mass immunization campaign in Northern Uganda to prevent the spread of the disease among the 59,000 South Sudanese refugees who are now sheltering there.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 2’15″

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