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17.02.2017 - News

South Sudan: 100,000 people trapped in Yei

A humanitarian crisis is currently unfolding in the besieged town of Yei, in South Sudan, trapping 100,000 people. In response to the crisis, Swiss Church Aid (HEKS/EPER) and the children´s aid foundation, Terre des hommes have launched a CHF 1.5 million project, supported by Swiss Solidarity.

“There were gunshots, our home was ransacked and set on fire by armed men. I had to escape with my five children, leaving all our possessions behind.” Linda´s case is not an isolated one. According to UNHCR, almost 50,000 people have been forcibly displaced in Yei, South Sudan. The city has been besieged since September 2016. Government troops hold Yei and control the main roads, while the rebels surround the city. At the moment the safest access route is by air.

The blockade is preventing farmers from accessing their fields. The costs of basic necessities have soared and people are in need of everything. Most water pumps are out of order and over half of the population no longer has access to drinking water. The cases of diarrhoea are increasing, posing a serious threat to children.

100,000 people are currently trapped. In response to the crisis, HEKS/EPER and the children´s aid foundation, Terre des hommes have launched a joint CHF 1.5 million humanitarian aid project, supported by Swiss Solidarity. The project needs to respond to the needs of 25,000 people, a quarter of Yei´s population.

“Our action takes place in several areas, in coordination with local authorities. This includes repairing 93 water points and distributing hygiene kits. To break the isolation of displaced children, we strive to reunite them with their families as well as offering them psychosocial support”, explains Steve Ringel, Emergency Manager at Terre des hommes. “We are distributing seeds and tools to 2000 small farmer families. They will be able to grow vegetables inside the city and fight against hunger. 2000 highly vulnerable people are also expected to participate in the “cash for work” programme by working on the maintenance of access roads.”

According to Valentin Prélaz, Program Manager at HEKS/EPER, this collaboration between the two Swiss NGOs will allow for considerably greater impact on the ground. “Our joint expertise will provide essential support to the people of Yei. HEKS/EPER has good knowledge of the region, a network of partners and experience promoting peace. Terre des hommes has expertise working with children and in emergency aid in conflict zones."

Photo credit: © Tdh/Ollivier Girard