thumb http://ccimiowa.com/wp-admin/includes/._schema.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>By having opened its gates to thousands fleeing conflict, mind UNMISS has demonstrated its commitment to its Protection of Civilians mandate and the plight of South Sudanese civilians, not only by saving thousands of lives but also by preventing the cycle of violence from worsening.
Four months on from the start of the conflict, 67,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are still seeking protection in 8 UNMISS Protection of Civilian (POC) sites across South Sudan, with a total of 32,000 in the two bases in Juba (Tomping and UN House) and around 21,500 in Malakal.
UNMISS is well aware of the risks to civilians who have crammed into its bases, none of which were designed to cater for IDPS, let alone in such huge numbers.
The congestion in the Juba Tomping and Malakal POC sites has been of concern since the beginning of the crisis.
With space per person reaching less than a tenth of what is recommended by minimum humanitarian standards, the risk of disease outbreaks remains extremely high.
In addition to working tirelessly to protect people from violence, UNMISS has provided space, water, and sanitation.
Aid agencies have joined the effort, for example by helping to mitigate the public health risks arising from overcrowding and scorching temperatures.
UNMISS has negotiated with the South Sudanese authorities access to more land to accommodate the displaced and is building additional new POC sites in Bor, Juba, and Malakal that will provide more space and decongest the currently crammed sites.
However, the establishment of some of the new POC sites has seen significant delays due to various reasons including, ongoing insecurity in Malakal, and limited availability of engineering capacity.
The first heavy rains in the beginning of March have shown that conditions will inevitably deteriorate further prompting UNMISS and humanitarian partners to accelerate measures to decongest the camps, improve sanitation and conduct scenario planning to address any outbreaks of deadly diseases.
In order to avert any health crises, IDPs in the Tomping site are being internally relocated to areas that are not prone to floods and gradually moved to alternative sites as they are completed.
The Tomping POC site will be closed in May when the new and improved POC site in the Jebel area is expected to be ready.
Importantly, UNMISS continues to advocate with the authorities in South Sudan for political and security solutions that will allow all citizens of South Sudan to exercise their right to return to the neighbourhoods in which they used to live or to seek abode in any other part of their country.