Rapid Response Missions provide vital supplies to children in South Sudan

Rapid Response Missions are vital in emergency situations like South Sudan, where ongoing conflict has displaced millions of people from their homes. Displacement has left people scattered across the country in far flung locations that make it ...

Rapid Response Missions are vital in emergency situations like South Sudan, where ongoing conflict has displaced millions of people from their homes.

Displacement has left people scattered across the country in far flung locations that make it difficult to reach children with vital supplies and services like clean water, sanitation, food, medicine and education.

Rapid Response Missions deploy mobile teams of technical specialist to provide essential supplies for 7 to 10 days for pockets of displaced people.

People cross a swamp area on canoes near Thonyor, Leer county to reach the registration site for the Rapid Response Mechanism, in South Sudan, February 23, 2017. In areas affected by insecurity and cut off from humanitarian assistance, including Leer, Koch and Manyedit counties, UNICEF, in collaboration with World Food Programme and partners, are working to reach the most vulnerable children with acute malnutrition through Rapid Response Missions and to re-establish static services in areas with relative calm. Further missions are planned in the coming days and weeks to address the nutrition crisis. In March 2017, war and a collapsing economy have left some 100,000 people facing starvation in parts of South Sudan where famine was declared 20 February, three UN agencies warned. A further 1 million people are classified as being on the brink of famine. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) also warned that urgent action is needed to prevent more people from dying of hunger. If sustained and adequate assistance is delivered urgently, the hunger situation can be improved in the coming months and further suffering mitigated.  The total number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the severity and spread of the food crisis. According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) update released 20 February by the government, the three agencies and other humanitarian partners, 4.9 million people – more than 40 percent of South Sudan’s population – are in need of urgent food, agriculture and nutrition assistance. Unimpeded humanitarian access to everyone facing famine, or at risk of famine, is urgently needed to reverse the escalating catastrophe, the UN agencies urged. Further spread of famine can only be prevented if humanitarian assistance is scaled uDuring the rainy season in South Sudan roads become impassable and staff must rely on helicopters to access locations where vulnerable children have been displaced. Photo; Modola, South Sudan, 2017. 

On a recent mission, we met Angelina (25). Her village is a two hour walk from vital health services and was attacked last August. During the attack her husband was killed and now she looks after her five children and her niece Nyalel, whose mother was kidnapped during the attack.

Angelina Nyanin, 25, talks to humanitarian aid workers as she holds her niece, Nyalel Gatcauk, 2, who suffers from malnutrition, at a registration area prior to visit UNICEF nutrition specialists during a Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) mission in Thonyor, Leer county, South Sudan, February 26, 2017. Angelina has five children of her own. They come from a village called Waluk, a two hours walk from the WFP registration area. Armed men killed her husband last year during a raid. Nyalel is the daughter of her brother. Angelina explained how in August last year her village was attacked by what she said were government soldiers. In the incident the soldiers took the mother of Nyalel away. She has never returned. She now provides for Nyalel as a mother. SheÕs alone, taking care of six children. The father of Nyalel is in Khartoum. ÒWhen they attacked the village I managed to run away with my children into the bush. When I returned at night Nyalel was in the house, but her mother was gone. The armed men that came for us that day and killed people randomly. They burned down many houses. Food and insecurity are our biggest worries. Because of the fighting that is going on around us it is difficult to find food. We are forced to collect and eat water lilies from the swamp. But the children donÕt react well to them. They loose weight quickly. I wish I could give my children a normal life. I wish I could send them to school, buy new clothes for them. I wish I could see them play outside the house during the day. But this is not possible now. The war has ruined everything in our livesÓ, Angelina explains. In areas affected by insecurity and cut off from humanitarian assistance, including Leer, Koch and Manyedit counties, UNICEF, in collaboration with World Food Programme and partners, are working to reach the most vulnerable children with acute malnutrition through Rapid Response Missions and to re-establish static services in areas with relative calm. Further missions areAngelina registers for help during the rapid response mission. Photo: Modola, South Sudan, 2017. 

Angelina told us, “When they attacked the village I managed to run away with my children into the bush. When I returned at night Nyalel was in the house, but her mother was gone. The armed men that came for us that day killed people randomly. They burned down many houses.”

Angelina brought her niece to be assessed by the nutritional specialist in the RRM team. She told us, “Food and insecurity are our biggest worries. Because of the fighting that is going on around us it is difficult to find food. We are forced to collect and eat water lilies from the swamp. But the children don’t react well to them. They lose weight quickly.”

Angelina Nyanin, 25, holds her niece, Nyalel Gatcauk, 2, who suffers from malnutrition, as a UNICEF nutrition worker feeds the baby Plumpy'Nut, a peanut-based paste for treatment of severe acute malnutrition during a Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) mission in Thonyor, Leer county, South Sudan, February 26, 2017. Angelina has five children of her own. They come from a village called Waluk, a two hours walk from the WFP registration area. Armed men killed her husband last year during a raid. Nyalel is the daughter of her brother. Angelina explained how in August last year her village was attacked by what she said were government soldiers. In the incident the soldiers took the mother of Nyalel away. She has never returned. She now provides for Nyalel as a mother. SheÕs alone, taking care of six children. The father of Nyalel is in Khartoum. ÒWhen they attacked the village I managed to run away with my children into the bush. When I returned at night Nyalel was in the house, but her mother was gone. The armed men that came for us that day and killed people randomly. They burned down many houses. Food and insecurity are our biggest worries. Because of the fighting that is going on around us it is difficult to find food. We are forced to collect and eat water lilies from the swamp. But the children donÕt react well to them. They loose weight quickly. I wish I could give my children a normal life. I wish I could send them to school, buy new clothes for them. I wish I could see them play outside the house during the day. But this is not possible now. The war has ruined everything in our livesÓ, Angelina explains. In areas affected by insecurity and cut off from humanitarian assistance, including Leer, Koch and Manyedit counties, UNICEF, in collaboration with World Food Programme and partners, are working to reach the most vulnerable children with acute malnutrition through Rapid Response Missions and to re-establish static services in areas with relative calm. FurtherNyalel receives emergency food supplies to help her recover. Photo: Modola, South Sudan, 2017. 

Nyalel was assessed by the team and provided with emergency food and medical supplies to help her recover. Without the RRM, Nyalel wouldn’t have received the lifesaving supplies she urgently needed.

The nutritional situation is critical in South Sudan where 1 million children are now acutely malnourished. UNICEF is continuing to work with partners to deliver aid through rapid response missions.

UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Kibrom Tesfaselassie checks a child for malnutrition during a Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) mission in Thonyor, Leer county, South Sudan, February 25, 2017. "The biggest challenge is the transportation of big amounts of humanitarian supplies to such remote areas of the country in order for UNICEF to serve big numbers of people. We don't always have such capacity. Children in these places have been deprived of basic services because of the situation in the country. My aim to reach and help all these children, boys and girls who are expecting our help", Kibrom explains. In areas affected by insecurity and cut off from humanitarian assistance, including Leer, Koch and Manyedit counties, UNICEF, in collaboration with World Food Programme and partners, are working to reach the most vulnerable children with acute malnutrition through Rapid Response Missions and to re-establish static services in areas with relative calm. Further missions are planned in the coming days and weeks to address the nutrition crisis. In March 2017, war and a collapsing economy have left some 100,000 people facing starvation in parts of South Sudan where famine was declared 20 February, three UN agencies warned. A further 1 million people are classified as being on the brink of famine. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) also warned that urgent action is needed to prevent more people from dying of hunger. If sustained and adequate assistance is delivered urgently, the hunger situation can be improved in the coming months and further suffering mitigated.  The total number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if nothing is done to curb the severity and spread of the food crisis. According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) update released 20 February by the governmentA young boy is assessed for malnutrition during the mission. Photo: Modola, South Sudan, 2017. 

Before she left Angelina told us, “I wish I could give my children a normal life. I wish I could send them to school, buy new clothes for them. I wish I could see them play outside the house during the day. But this is not possible now. The war has ruined everything in our lives.”

Please donate today and help provide vital supplies to children like Nyalel.