Last updateDim, 25 Jan 2015 7pm

UN agency warns of emerging diseases in South Sudan

Despite the ceasefire signed late last week between the warring parties in South Sudan, UNICEF has warned that an outbreak of diseases is unfolding across South Sudanese towns. A press release by UNICEF- South Sudan office, received here by PANA, said that amid an outbreak of measles among children in the Protection of Civilian (PoC) centres at UNMISS camp - which cause at least 30 child deaths - UNICEF has rushed in supplies overnight to vaccinate 4,000 children against measles and polio and supplied Vitamin A to boost children’s immune system.

'Few humanitarian agencies have been able to gain access to the population of Bor who fled the fighting to seek protection in the PoC centre in Bor. Grave insecurity means only a limited number of aid workers are able to operate within the centre,' the release indicated.

A team of five health officials from UNICEF stayed overnight in the Bor camp to distribute vaccines and train 10 teams of local vaccinators to immunize at least 4,000 children in the cramped and overcrowded camp.

“Children have survived violent conflicts only to face the risk of dying in appalling conditions — and if we can’t reach them with humanitarian aid, that risk will increase dramatically,” Dermot Carty, deputy director of Emergency Programmes for UNICEF, was quoted as saying.

Bor is just 140 kms away from Juba but the road has been the frontline in the South Sudan conflict. The health infrastructure in Bor, as in other parts of the country, has been largely destroyed or supplies have been looted.

The release said the immunization campaign kicked off after two plane loads of urgently needed medical supplies were chartered by UNICEF and flew into Juba this week, carrying 70 tons of medicines for children and women.

The planes brought in medical supplies, cold chain equipment, treatment for malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea and malnutrition, as well as nutrients, vitamins, antibiotics and pain-killers for children.

The supplies also include midwifery and obstetric surgery kits and water and sanitation equipment, and tents, tarpaulins and blankets.

It revealed that immunization campaigns are also underway in camps for the displaced in Juba.

In total, UNICEF and partners aim to vaccinate 180,000 children below 15 years against measles polio and measles.

'UNICEF still needs US$32 million to meet immediate needs for the South Sudan crisis,' the release indicated.

The number of displaced persons continue to increase -- at least half a million people are now estimated to have left their homes; nearly 70,000 of those displaced within the country are sheltering in Protection of Civilian (PoC) centres of the UN Mission in South Sudan; 86,000 are reported to have fled to neighbouring countries, most of them women and children.

Pana 27/01/2014