– Thousands of people who fled insecurity in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan State to neighbouring South Sudan’s Unity State remain vulnerable, amid humanitarian access and security concerns, says the UN.
“People entering the area are reported to be highly vulnerable, some having walked with children for two weeks,” said Siddartha Shrestha, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) South Sudan chief of communication.
“Increased levels of malnutrition are noted among new arrivals which require enhanced nutrition interventions.”
UNICEF has supplied about 3,000kg of emergency nutrition supplies such as Plumpy’Nut, a paste used in the treatment of severe acute malnutrition.
At present, about 9,200 people have been registered, states a recent report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
While a majority of the arrivals are refugees, there are also a number of returnees.
The affected began arriving in Unity in July following heavy fighting and air strikes in South Kordofan and are the first refugees to reach post-independence South Sudan, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
Unity State, which borders Sudan’s regions of Abyei and Southern Kordofan, is already grappling with the largest number of returnees – 83,851 – between 30 October 2010 and 13 September 2011, according to OCHA.
Amid safety and access concerns, discussions are ongoing about the possible relocation of the new arrivals.
“The big challenge remains access to the area. Current access is by flight to an air strip north of Bentiu Town and then by quad bike for some distance,” said UNICEF’s Shrestha.
However, the bikes can only carry a limited number of staff and goods.
Shrestha said UNICEF was also assisting the vulnerable populations still in South Kordofan and had so far provided humanitarian assistance in 13 out of 19 localities in coordination with the government, and international and national NGOs.
“There are still large humanitarian needs in both government and non-government controlled areas,” he noted, adding that UNICEF-Sudan continued negotiating for access to non-governmental areas with partial success.