More than 2,300 metric tons is needed each month to assist 125,000 Sudanese refugees living in four camps and vulnerable host communities in Maban County of South Sudan’s Upper Nile State. Re-supplying refugee camps in Maban County has been complicated by continued insecurity and fighting along the supply routes, preventing WFP from conducting regular delivery of critical food supplies to refugees.
Due to the access constraints by road, the supply of life-saving food assistance to Maban is currently performed by air from different locations, including Gambella and Asosa in Ethiopia. This Hercules C-130 cargo plane does airlifts, where the aircraft lands and food is then unloaded and moved to warehouses in the various camps for refugees.
The landing and take-off of big cargo planes delivering humanitarian assistance draws attention from many. These children climb on the wreckage of a plane close to the Doro airfield in order to have a better view of an ongoing airlift operation.
People gather at the Doro airfield to watch WFP off-load 15 tons of cereals airlifted for refugees in Maban County. Supplies for Maban are primarily moved by river and road from Ethiopia. But this year the trucks which were due to deliver more than 22,000 metric tons of food could not move due to cross-border movement restrictions and later fighting between government and opposition forces on the routes.
An Ilyushin-76 plane airdrops food near Kaya in South Sudan as WFP uses aircrafts to bring additional food stocks to the camps for Sudanese refugees in Maban County. However, airdrops are not only expensive but the sheer volume of the food requirement for Maban is such that it would take nearly 34 days for a plane doing two drops a day to be able to complete the food needed for a month.
WFP programme officer, Mauren Loku inspects the bags on the ground to see if there are any breakages after an airdrop near Kaya refugee camp. These bags are collected, put in trucks and transported to warehouses in the various camps for refugees in Maban County.
Despite the challenges to bring food supplies into Maban County, WFP is continuing to distribute food, although the agency and its partners have been forced to reduce rations. Here, women at Doro refugee camp leave a distribution centre after receiving food assistance from WFP and its partners.
Regaining road access to Maban County and to other communities isolated by conflict is critical to averting a humanitarian catastrophe in South Sudan. A disaster can still be prevented, but it is absolutely critical to stop the fighting and other obstacles that prevent lifesaving aid deliveries by WFP.
29 July 2014 South Sudan: ‘Food Alone Is Not Enough’