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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 24 November, 2014

UN accused of showing “indifference” to 21,000 displaced people

Médecins Sans Frontières made the accusations today.

Young child in flooded camp in South Sudan.
Young child in flooded camp in South Sudan.

THE UN HAS been accused of indifference towards 21,000 internally displaced people sheltering from violence in a compound in South Sudan.

Médecins Sans Frontières, Doctors Without Borders, (MSF) issued the statement today saying that Senior United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have shown “a shocking display of indifference”.

Officials have refused to improve living conditions for 21,000 displaced people living in a flood-prone part of a UN compound, exposed to waterborne diseases and potential epidemics.

MSF say that despite repeated requests from humanitarian organisations, UNMISS is taking no actions in the camp to improve their chances of survival.

Médecins Sans Frontières is questioning the UN’s commitment to meeting the needs of the war-torn country’s most vulnerable groups and is calling for immediate action to save lives in the Tomping camp.

Camps

The Tomping UN peacekeeping base is in the capital city Juba and has been host to people who fled for their lives when conflict erupted in December.

MSF says that:

Diarrhoeal diseases, respiratory infections and skin diseases already make up more than 60 per cent of the cases in MSF’s clinic in the camp.

Entrance to MSF clinic at Tomping camp. South Sudan 2014 © Aurelie Baumel MSF

Entrance to MSF clinic at Tomping camp

“A UN plan to establish an alternative site has been mired in implementation delays and is now unrealistic.

“Repeated requests by MSF and other organizations to expand the Tomping camp into available non-flooded space in the compound, at least as a temporary life-saving measure, have been inexplicably refused”.

The UN has admitted that the camp is at imminent risk of becoming a death trap. South Sudan 2014 © Aurelie Baumel MSF

Conditions at Tomping

Carolina Lopez is the MSF emergency coordinator, she said:

The UNMISS decision not to improve conditions in Tomping is shameful.

“The rains, which will last the best part of six months, are getting heavier and if nothing is done right now the consequences, already horrific, could become fatal.

“Whether as a permanent or as an interim solution, expanding into the dry parts of the compound has to be an immediate action.”

UNMISS

Head of UNMISS, Hilde Johnson, stated last week that the Tomping camp is “at imminent risk of turning into a death trap.”

She then announced that it will be closed in May.

However, MSF says only 1,118 residents have been moved over the past 5 weeks.

Although the plan may have been a valid option a month ago, moving some 20,000 people to a space that is far from fully prepared in this timeframe, with the rains starting, is unrealistic.

Lopez says, “They say there is not enough space in Tomping, but this is a sickening argument when on the other side of the barbed wire there are dry parking and storage spaces.

Dry space close to Tomping camp

Dry space near tomping camp

“Furthermore, many of the camp residents say they would not want to move to the proposed ‘Juba House’ location, another UNMISS base on the outskirts of Juba, as they would feel less safe there. MSF urges UNMISS to ensure that any movements are voluntary”.

Jerome Oberreit, MSF Secretary General said,

We urge the UN leadership to remember that protection means more than just corralling people in a guarded compound.

“Adequate living conditions are also essential, and require urgent, pragmatic action. People must be safe from disease as well as safe from violence”.

 

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