There have been great losses of life owing to the continued insecurity and ethnic tensions. There is limited infrastructure in the country, impairing access to education and health services, food and nutrition, and gender equality remains low. Many people have become internally displaced within the country or fled as refugees.
Concern has been working across South Sudan for eight years, delivering lifesaving emergency and development programmes.
I, some fellow Trustees and Concern staff landed in Juba, South Sudan’s capital. After receiving a second detailed security briefing (we received the first before we left the UK) we travelled to the Protection of Civilians (POC) site to see the delivery of some of Concern’s programmes.
From my time working with the UN in conflict zones, I have sadly seen many locations with internally displaced people, but I have never seen one surrounded by a high perimeter wall with barbed wire, cameras, guard towers and UN peacekeepers patrolling the POC in armoured tank convoys. I would show a picture, but our security briefing advised against us taking pictures openly on the streets.
Inside the POC, where approximately 26,000 people live in tents, we drove to one of Concern’s nutrition centres. I watched as Concern’s nurses and nutritionists weighed toddlers and young infants, brought in by their mothers. On a daily basis, they give vaccinations, malaria treatment and medicines, and distribute cereals, pulses, oil, salt and nutritious formula for the children. They also teach mothers critical skills such as maintaining hygiene levels to prevent the spread of diseases.