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UNICEF warns, water shortages facing children in Bentiu

Khartoum, Sudan - Tens of thousands of people who fled targeted ethnic violence in Bentiu last week are receiving just one litre of safe drinking water per day in the desperately overcrowded UN base, the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) said in a press release, obtained by PANA here Tuesday.

The release quoted the UNICEF as saying that the influx – more than 10,000 people arrived last week, taking the population of the UN Mission’s Protection of Civilians site to approximately 23,000 – together with the continued unrest and the beginning of the rainy season, has put an unbearable strain on the emergency response.

“Those who survived horrendous violence now face the very real risk of fatal water-borne disease outbreak”,   UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan, Jonathan Veitch, said. “Children have endured unspeakable violence – they must not continue to suffer in places that should provide safety.”

It said trucks that bring fresh water every day to the camp face a precarious security situation and frequently become stuck on roads muddied by heavy rains. The rains have also collapsed a number of latrines at the camp, with now just one latrine per 350 people.

Many of UNICEF’s humanitarian partners have had to leave the area because of the security situation.

UNICEF has maintained staff in Bento and is rapidly responding to the urgent needs, drilling new boreholes for water, and today flying in parts for the construction of new latrines. However, UNICEF said it remains hindered by a lack of funding and access.

“The UN Children’s Fund continues to call on those in positions of command and leadership to keep children out of harm’s way, and to ensure safe access for humanitarian work.” the release stressed.

It pointed out that more than one million people have been displaced by the conflict in South Sudan.

Pana 23/04/2014