March 11, 2014 (JUBA) – The United Nations on Tuesday said it has started working to mitigate any risks thousands of displaced South Sudanese could face as the rainy season approaches.
At least 706,000 people, humanitarian agencies say, have been displaced since crisis started in mid-December last year, with 77,000 of them seeking refuge at eight UN bases in the country.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other UN partners are reportedly working to develop ways to mitigate the risks of flooding and associated health and safety concerns, especially after rainstorms caused flooding and destroyed hundreds of tents at a UN base in Juba last week.
“The shelter and non-food relief item humanitarian cluster, co-led by IOM, is currently testing a shelter prototype for the rainy season using sandbags, floor elevation and additional framing materials to fortify existing shelters,” said IOM spokesperson, Chris Lom.
He however observed that the cluster was “also working to decongest displacement sites by identifying space for expansion, and were prepositioning relief supplies in anticipation of logistical constraints caused by flooded roads.”
Meanwhile, Tarik Jasarevic, the spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO) said a cholera vaccination campaign was underway and that more than 3,300 people had so far been vaccinated since it commenced a week ago.
“The first round had been completed a week earlier, with more than 65,000 people vaccinated,” he stated, adding that cholera vaccinations required two rounds meaning all those people would be revaccinated shortly.
He said the ongoing vaccination was only a preventive measure using existing stockpiles managed by WHO, UN Children Fund (UNICEF), Medecins sans Frontiers and partners.
“Internally displaced persons in UN camps are considered to be at high risk. Fortunately, they were easy to access and easy to re-vaccinate two weeks later,” said Jasarevic.