UN agency airlifts lifesaving survival kits to displaced in hard-to-reach areas of South Sudan

Aid workers loading a plane with survival kits for distribution in South Sudan. Photo: International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Aid workers loading a plane with survival kits for distribution in South Sudan. Photo: International Organization for Migration (IOM)

South Sudan, 17 June 2015 – The United Nations agriculture agency has launched an emergency airlift operation in South Sudan and has distributed to families fleeing violence in hard-to-reach areas supplies ranging from nutritional biscuits for children, mosquito nets, vegetable seeds, water purification tablets and oral rehydration salts.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced yesterday that the first distribution of survival kits was delivered by helicopter, targeting an estimated 28,000 people displaced by the fighting with approximately 4,500 kits.

Recent violence in South Sudan has affected an estimated 750,000 people in Greater Upper Nile and forced approximately 150,000 people to flee their homes, many to extremely remote areas. Most are rural households, forced to abandon their lands before they could plant this season’s main crops.

As an emergency response, the UN humanitarian community developed portable, lifesaving survival kits, weighing just 9 kilograms, which include mosquito nets, short-maturity vegetable seeds, fishing supplies, water carrying containers, water purification tablets, oral rehydration salts, nutritional biscuits for children and kitchen sets with cups, spoons, pots and plates.

“It is a top priority for FAO to reach these displaced communities, who in most cases have missed the planting season this year. This operation will provide people with a short-term capacity to survive,” said Karim Bah, FAO Deputy Representative in South Sudan.

The Representative for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in South Sudan, Jonathan Veitch, said: “The majority of those who have fled recent violence are children who will not survive without basic necessities like food and clean water. This short-term response is crucial while we work on restoring services devastated by conflict.”

FAO and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are closely coordinating the operation with support from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and development of the kits was a multi-agency effort, supported by FAO, IOM, UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) and other partners.

Partner agencies working with the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps distribute the kits on the ground to ensure that the delivery of aid does not further expose beneficiaries to security risks, according to FAO.

“The priority of all agencies working on the response is unrestricted access to displaced communities and the redeployment of full teams on the ground,” FAO said. More than 2.1 million people have been displaced by the crisis in South Sudan since December 2013. Nearly 1.9 million people have been reached with humanitarian assistance since January 2015, but $1 billion is needed to continue lifesaving operations to match the mounting needs across the country.