February 21, 2017 (WAU) - The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said it is improving the living conditions for internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the crowded protection of civilians (PoC) sites in South Sudan’s town of Wau.
- IDPs shelter near the UNMISS base in Wau (IOM/Gonzalez 2016)
The site, which hosts over 30,000 IDPs, and is situated adjacent to the U.N peacekeeping base is the most congested displacement camp in the country.
According to the agency, the camp management conducted a relocation exercise from 26 January to 20 February, helping more than 6,000 IDPs move from the most congested areas into over 800 units in 176 communal shelters constructed by IOM teams, as households continue to access common services within the site, such as clinics managed by IOM, International Medical Corps and Médecins Sans Frontières.
"The extension is also improving conditions for those who remain in the old areas of the site,” said the IOM camp management officer for the Wau site, Kevin Merkelz.
“We were able to open up wide avenues to improve safety and make space for dozens of badly needed showers and latrines. This also allowed us to empty six classrooms that had been occupied since the start of the crisis so that they could be used once again for educating the children displaced by the conflict," he added.
The PoC site, according to IOM, was an empty plot of land before fighting broke out in Wau, a relatively calm area before a rapid escalation of insecurity in late June 2016. The site reportedly swelled quickly as displaced families rushed to safety.
"Today, over 45,900 people are sheltered in the PoC site and other displacement centres, like churches, across Wau town. Thousands more have been affected by the crisis in areas south of Wau, but relief agencies have faced extreme difficulty accessing these populations since early July," the agency said in a statement.
"Resources have been further stretched as IOM and other aid agencies respond to an influx of more than 5,000 newly displaced people, who have arrived at collective centres in Wau town since early February due to insecurity in Jur River County," it adds.
Aid agencies say over 7.5 million people in South Sudan today are in dire need of humanitarian assistance due to a devastating crisis that has displaced over 3 million people since 2013. About 100,000 people are facing famine conditions due to war and a failing economy, U.N agencies said.