Desperation in South Sudan

A child with a gunshot wound to his hand rests on his father's lap as he undergoes medical treatment at the general military hospital in Juba, 28 December 2013. © Reuters/James Akena

A child with a gunshot wound to his hand rests on his father's lap as he undergoes medical treatment at the general military hospital in Juba, 28 December 2013. © Reuters/James Akena

Operational update (01/01/2014) -- Tens of thousands of people fearing for their lives have fled violence in Jonglei state. They are crossing the Nile River and seeking refuge in Awerial county, in the centre of South Sudan. The need for humanitarian aid is acute, as more people arrive daily. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the South Sudan Red Cross today began a major aid distribution to meet immediate food, shelter and other needs.

"The road to the river is lined with thousands of people, with others waiting for boats to carry them across," said François Moreillon, ICRC deputy head of delegation, speaking from Awerial county. "This is the largest single identified concentration of displaced people in the country so far. We’re taking immediate action to address the vital needs of these people, who have already had to face enormous hardship.”

The ICRC’s initial response will provide 30,000 people with basic items such as blankets, tarpaulins, cooking kits, jerry cans and a two-week food supply. In addition, fishing kits are being distributed to over 16,000 residents of Awerial county, whose resources are under strain from this sudden influx of displaced people…..Read the full updateon www.icrc.org

For a better understanding of the situation in South Sudan watch this Intercross video from late November featuring our head of delegation in Juba.

Note for journalists: The ICRC’s Jacob Kurtzer, who is normally part of our team here in Washington, is currently in South Sudan. Members of the media can reach him on: +211 912360038