As the rainy season hampers access to many parts of South Sudan, the ICRC is conducting large scale air drops of food, seeds and essential household items.
With distribution by road at a virtual standstill in parts of the conflict-torn country, the humanitarian organisation has had to conduct air drops for the first time in over fifteen years. These air drops are part of a massive effort to provide emergency food supplies to 420,000 people over the next month.
Today (15 May), the ICRC is asking for a budget extension of 48 million Swiss francs (54 million USD) to fund these air drops and to improve water and sanitation for 340,000 people. The ICRC will also distribute seeds and tools to 540,000 people and maintain four mobile surgical teams to treat weapon wounded people. The extra money brings the total budget for South Sudan to112 million Swiss francs (126 million USD), second only to ICRC’s budget for Syria.
“We have resorted to air drops in South Sudan because access is extremely difficult and complex,” explains Eric Marclay, ICRC’s head of operations for East Africa . “South Sudan is the size of France. A number of places are only accessible by air so we have to resort to air drops.”
ICRC staff and South Sudan Red Cross volunteers are on the ground to distribute the air drops and ensure the food and emergency items are delivered safely to those most in need.
In Awerial county, where thousands of people have taken refuge after fleeing violence, the situation was already dire, but with the arrival of the rainy season things have further deteriorated. “The children here are suffering from the cold. I'm afraid they will also die because they are sick,” said Jar Ahen, an elderly woman in an Awerial camp.
Eric Marclay says the situation is precarious: “Over 800,000 people had to flee their homes. Over 200,000 are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. Thousands of people have been killed, and thousands have been wounded.”
The extra funds to support ICRC’s humanitarian response will go a long way to alleviate this humanitarian crisis.
Facts and Figures:
The budget extension will enable the ICRC, in cooperation with the South Sudan Red Cross, to:
Location: Jonglei State and Lake State South Sudan
Format: Mpg4 SD and HD
Production: Christopher Nicholas
Camera: Cynthia Lee, Christopher Nicholas
Sound: English and Dinka
ICRC ref: AV180N
Jonglei State, South Sudan 3 May 2014
00:00 Inside cockpit of Hercules C130 Aircraft.
00:06 View from cockpit looking down over Jonglei state.
00:18 Aircraft hold opening.
00:30 Engineers inside hull of aircraft preparing the load to be dropped.
00:41 Relief items leaving the back of the aircraft.
00:52 Aerial view of drop zone in Lankien in Jonglei state (approximately 1 km x 300 metres surrounded by 100 metre safety zone.
Geneva, Switzerland, 13 May 2014
SOUNDBITE: Eric Marclay, Head of Operations for the ICRC in East Africa (in English):
01:03 The International Committee of the Red Cross resort to air drops in South Sudan because the accessibility is extremely difficult and complex. South Sudan is the size of France. A number of places are simply inaccessible except by air and with the rainy season is not even accessible by air so we have to resort to air drops.
01:32 “Before the conflict started South Sudan was a poor country. And the conflict that started on 15 December has definitely worsened the situation for thousands of people including women, children and the elderly. Over 800,000 had to flee their homes. Over 200,000 are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries as well. Thousands of people have been killed; thousands have been wounded, so you can imagine the humanitarian situation is extremely difficult for the people.”
Minkamen, Awerial County, South Sudan, February 2014
02:16 Children and families living in makeshift shelters in Minkamen, Awerial County.
02:22 Child in makeshift shelter in Minkamen.
02:32 C/U two young children’s faces with flies in Minkamen.
02:40 Children sitting and playing surrounded by bags and pots in Minkamen.
SOUNDBITE Jar Ahen, elderly woman from Bor (in Dinka):
02:46 “In my life, when I was in my home I used to drink milk and I slept in my own house. Everyone was killed there. Now I have nothing. These children who are staying here are suffering from the cold. I'm afraid they will also die because they are sick. It is windy and that is a problem. I have no life.”
03:34 Women sharing and picking up food at ICRC distribution point
03:39 Women measuring out sugar at ICRC distribution point in Minkamen in Awerial county
03:44 Water supply set up by ICRC close to Minkamen town.
03:52 C/U Woman getting water from water supply close to Minkamen town.