When fighting erupted in July in Juba, looters ransancked and stole all the food in the main WFP warehouse in the South Sudanese capital. This disrupted food assistance to hundreds of thousands of people in the country, and particularly the more than 30,000 people sheltering in UN Peacekeeping bases in the city. Most of the people who rely on this assistance were very concerned about their survival, and appealed to aid agencies and their donors to continue support. It was a great relief to most women in the camps when WFP re-started full assistance in September.
Juba – On a cloudy September morning in Juba, Martha Nyanhor waits patiently for her turn to receive food items at a distribution point for people sheltering at a UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Juba. She looks thoughtful, her gaze is distant as if unaware of the noise and commotion around her as people move bags of cereal, sacks of yellow split peas, and tins of vegetable oil.
“I am thinking about how long this will last,” says the mother of six children. “How long we will live this life where we continue to receive food and pinch it so that we all eat to our fill.”
Nyanhor and her children have been living in the PoC since December 2013, when she packed a few belongings and fled to safety as civil conflict unfolded in Juba and spread across South Sudan. They are among more than 37,000 people living in the camp, including thousands who recently sought protection there when fighting erupted again in Juba in July 2016.
“We were worried about where food would come from when we heard that the food in the stores had been stolen,” says Nyanhor.
Fighting and the looting of WFP’s main warehouse in Juba in July have presented enormous obstacles that temporarily disrupted the regular food distribution schedule at the two PoC sites in Juba. Following a population count and registration exercise conducted by humanitarian partners, WFP has been able to restart distributions with food that was brought to Juba in the weeks following the looting.
The residents of the PoC depend on such assistance to meet their basic food needs. Many say they feel unsafe if they step out of the camps and welcomed the continued provision of food assistance by WFP and its partners through funding by several donors, including the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO), to WFP’s Emergency Operation in South Sudan.
“I am stuck in this camp. If I have to go out to buy food for my family I may be harassed and assaulted by soldiers out there. Some women have even been raped,” says Nyanhor.
“I am pleading with the UN and WFP and the people who give you the money to continue helping us while we stay here because we don’t have any other way of obtaining food,” she adds.
As dark clouds continued to gather over the Juba skyline, a relative urges Nyanhor to hurry up. She steps forward, shows her card, and collects a white sack of sorghum, a blue and white stripped plastic bag containing yellow split peas, and a container of cooking oil.
'I hope by God's grace this will end.'
A few drops of rain hit the earth as Nyanhor readies herself to take the food home with the help of two of her children and a relative. She is still not smiling but her face looks relaxed now.
“I don’t want to stay in this camp. It is the problems of our country that make me stay here, and I hope by God’s grace this will end.”
With the support of donors such as ECHO, WFP has continued providing regular food rations to 1.6 million people affected by the conflict in South Sudan including those sheltering in the PoCs since 2013. A recent ECHO contribution of € 20 Million (US$ 22 million) was used to buy food for people living in the PoCs and affected by fighting in the Greater Upper Nile region.