Tens of thousands of refugees from South Sudan are arriving in transit camps and settlements in Uganda. Although they have found safety, food is their number one priority.
Nyumanzi -Three meals a day were a welcome relief to Adau Akuonan and her daughter Nyandeng after a long journey to safety -- fleeing fighting in South Sudan and seeking refuge in Uganda’s Adjumani district.
The family left their home in Bor in Jonglei state, South Sudan during fighting that began in Juba in mid- December and spread to three states in the north of the country. Initially they moved around the state in search of a safe location, not planning on leaving their homeland, but when their home was set on fire, they began the long journey southward on foot. They carried few personal belongings with them.
Looking For Abandoned Buildings
Nyandeng Deng is one of Adau’s eight children and helps her mother with the younger kids as well as preparing the food they are provided with by WFP. “There was shooting everywhere,” says Nyandeng, “and there was a big gun stationed near our house. It was too dangerous to stay.”
Even though a relative sent them money to help during their journey, it was tough. The family often walked entire days. As the sun set, they looked for abandoned buildings in which to sleep. They often begged for food and a younger children fell ill with a cough. The family arrived in Uganda after ten days on the road.
“At Dzaipi (transit centre), we ate regular meals for the first time,” says Adau.
“We ate three meals a day, porridge in the morning, then beans and maize for lunch and supper,” Nyandeng explains.
The family has since been resettled by the government and UNHCR on land provided by the local community. They have built two huts covered with UN tarpaulin sheets, not far away from a source of water, also provided by humanitarian agencies.
Food Is The Priority
Adau says the most important things they have received since arriving in Uganda are the materials for erecting shelters, blankets, kitchen utensils, mosquito nets and plastic mats.
“But the food is number one, followed by water.” Nyandeng says emphatically.
“We like to eat meat and yam as well, and they are sold in the market,” adds Nyandeng “but our father does not have money to buy such. He comes home with them only once in a while.”
WFP is currently supporting more than 113,000 refugees who arrived from South Sudan since mid-December. WFP provides high energy biscuits at the border points, cooked meals at transit centres and then monthly food baskets. Each basket comprises of cereals, pulses, vegetable cooking oil, iodised salt and cereal fortified with vitamins and minerals. The government allocates the refugees pieces of land where they are allowed to cultivate food and build shelters. WFP food and nutrition assistance reduces as the refugees begin to provide for themselves on the allocated land.