In times of crisis, providing safe, clean water saves lives daily.
Since fighting broke out in South Sudan on December 15, 2013, more than 908,000 South Sudanese have been internally displaced due to the violence, and some 202,500 South Sudanese are now refugees in neighboring countries. One of these refugees is Nyanor, a 23 year-old mother who fled the fighting with her husband and four young children.
“We are so afraid,” says Nyanor. “Many of our relatives have been left behind. When will we see them again? I am not sure if they are alive or dead since I cannot communicate with them.”
Brought, in part, to the world’s attention through an IAS press release, the situation in the camps was initially desperate. Many of the refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are women, children, and the elderly. They are being exposed to numerous diseases and are suffering from dehydration, vomiting, malaria, and other nutritional problems. “If we don’t get help, we’ll die,” says Nyanor.
Having worked in South Sudan since 1990, IAS was one of the first organizations on the ground in Bor, Jonglei state, to help with the current crisis. The fighting in Bor had a horrific effect on the area, causing the evacuation of almost all of the international aid agencies near and around Bor. Through the fighting, IAS South Sudan staff remained on site in Bor, working tirelessly to ensure access to safe water and to improve hygiene and sanitation for the devastated local population.
When the IDP camp in Bor opened, it was a disturbing sight with more than 17,000 people crammed into a very small area. “Today the camp is very different,” states IAS Humanitarian Aid Coordinator, Daniel Zetterlund. ”The camp is clean, water provision has improved, and sanitation and hygiene have also greatly improved.”
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
A STRONGHOLD IN TIMES OF TROUBLE.”
PSALMS 9:9 NIV
But the situation in Bor remains on a razor’s edge. April 17, 2014 marked the darkest day since the crisis began. A large crowd of men, women and youth armed with guns, machetes, and knives entered the camp from multiple directions and began firing their weapons indiscriminately.
IAS Project Coordinator in Bor, Yakani Hillary, recalls the event. “We tried to seek shelter and hid from the bullets. It was only by the grace of God that we managed to survive the attack.” Others were not as fortunate as the IAS team and did not survive – numerous civilians, including women and children.
Prior to April 17, over five weeks had passed without a single water-related death in the Bor compound – in large part due to the efforts of IAS. The IAS team found themselves spending the remainder of April 17 caring for the wounded and collecting dead bodies.
Endless water cans lined up at the IAS well in the Bor IDP camp
IAS grieves with the families who have lost their loved ones during this terrible atrocity of April 17. IAS is committed to continue to care for the residents of Bor, Jonglei State, by helping to provide access to clean, safe water and sanitation.
Your thoughts and prayers for the IAS staff, as well as those who continue to suffer through this South Sudan crisis, are greatly appreciated.
President, IAS America
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