National News

Isolated Communities in Upper Nile Receive Shelter Assistance


Juba – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Africa Development Aid delivered much-needed shelter and household items to more than 10,200 returnees, internally displaced persons and the communities hosting them in Tonga, an isolated area of South Sudan’s Upper Nile region, last week.

The distribution followed an assessment conducted in May, which found that thousands were in need, with many households recently returning to Tonga after fleeing violence between Government and opposition forces in April 2017.

Although a sense of security has returned to Tonga, fighting and isolation have left the area without basic services. IOM and humanitarian agencies are rushing to provide support as the May-to-October rainy season begins to intensify. Tonga, which is located on a river, is only accessible by air and boat. During the rainy season, access by road to communities within Tonga will become extremely difficult.

Lina, 27 years old, is living in Tonga with her two children. By the time she and her children had reached Tonga in 2016, they had already fled twice since the war began in 2013. When fighting struck Tonga in April 2017, she once again fled to Fangak, a nearby town. After a year, she felt it was safe enough to return to Tonga.

Lina is not alone. Many people have returned since fleeing the 2017 fighting and others have sought safety in Tonga from insecurity in other parts of the country. Some have arrived very recently from as far as southern Unity, where renewed violence is inflicting a devastating toll on civilians and forcing thousands from their homes.

Having left or lost most of their belongings, families like Lina’s were in urgent need of plastic sheeting to cover their makeshift shelters, blankets to protect their children at night and mosquito nets to prevent malaria, which will become more prevalent as the rains set in.

During the distribution, households received plastic sheeting, a blanket, a mosquito net, a half cooking set and rubber rope to support shelter construction.

In March 2018, IOM migration health teams also participated in a multi-sector assessment and response mission to Tonga. During an eight-day mission, IOM supported the Tonga primary health care clinic to provide primary health care services, conducting 413 medical consultations, vaccinating 465 children and reaching over 2,200 people with health promotion messages.

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