Humanitarians Brace for Broader Crisis as Rising Tensions Displace Tens of Thousands in Southern Sudan

For families fleeing border violence in southern Sudan, malnutrition and poor sanitary conditions are life-threatening
ACF at work in southern Sudan, where thousands are displaced . Photo: ACF-Sudan, J. Seagle/Counterpart Images.

ABYEI, SOUTHERN SUDAN—Tensions have risen steadily in Sudan as the date for southern independence draws near, but recent developments suggest a new level of insecurity along disputed sections of the border , displacing tens of thousands in the region and threatening to set off a broader humanitarian crisis. While the situation remains fluid, an estimated 110,000 people have already fled their homes in and around Abyei, relocating in neighboring Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Unity, and Warrap State.

In coordination with UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations, Action Against Hunger | ACF International has launched an emergency response to assess needs while providing these populations with emergency nutritional assistance and immediate access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Emergency Nutrition & Water Needs

While security concerns have limited certain activities, Action Against Hunger has managed to carry out initial assessments in the towns of Mayen Abun, Turalei, Majak Aher, and Wunrok, and across Twic County, areas that have absorbed significant numbers of the displaced. Action Against Hunger has carried out additional assessments in former displacement camps that are now being reopened to assist the newly displaced. Initial efforts have centered on nutritional screenings to detect rates of severe acute malnutrition among the displaced, while assessing the water and sanitation infrastructure available in each region in anticipation of further influxes of the displaced.

Action Against Hunger's current activities include the repair and rehabilitation of a range of existing boreholes to ensure access to clean water; the construction of new and the repair of existing latrines (as well as the dismantling of older camp latrines that are no longer usable) to provide basic sanitation; targeted distributions of collapsible jerry cans to help the displaced collect and store clean water; ongoing screenings for acute malnutrition and enrollment of malnourished children in outpatient therapeutic programs; the launch of emergency health and hygiene promotion programs; and the ongoing identification of additional sites where the displaced are beginning to congregate.