25th Joint Rapid Response Mission to South Sudan’s most remote areas 

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF are wrapping up their 25th joint emergency mission to deliver lifesaving supplies and services in the most remote and conflict-hit regions of South Sudan. 

The joint UNICEF-WFP teams – bringing assistance via plane and helicopter – have now reached more than 500,000 people including 100,000 children under the age of 5. The 25th joint mission has been taking place in Pathai, a settlement in Jonglei State, where around 30,000 children and adults registered for assistance. 

Using a combination of airdrops and airlifts, WFP delivers food assistance and nutrition supplements while UNICEF provides nutrition and basic health support, including immunizing children against polio and measles, and giving out learning materials and water, sanitation and hygiene supplies. Both agencies provide nutrition screening and treatment, as well as information and messages on nutrition. Children who are separated from their families, or unaccompanied, are registered to begin the reunification process. 

“These missions reach people who have been fleeing for their lives,” said Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan. “They have lost or left everything behind, and their relief that someone has finally come to help, and not harm, is palpable.” 

“Our staff deployed across South Sudan, in gruelling and often dangerous conditions, show great determination to serve the people of South Sudan with lifesaving food and nutrition assistance,” said Joyce Luma, WFP Country Director in South Sudan.  

The multi-agency rapid response teams, composed of experts in food; health; nutrition; child protection; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and education. With support from logistics and telecommunications specialists, they provide a lifeline to desperate communities in the three conflict-affected states - Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity. The teams stay in each location from eight to 11 days, carrying all their own supplies, including food, water and tents. Based on their assessment of the needs of the local population, which can be up to nearly 50,000 people per mission, the teams radio for supplies to be delivered by air. 

Missions can be delayed by bad weather, which disrupts flights and causes dirt airstrips to flood. Insecurity is a constant challenge. But once a Rapid Response Mission has reached an area to establish a humanitarian response, NGO partners are frequently able to remain and provide ongoing assistance.  

Of the more than 1.8 million South Sudanese who fled their homes because of the conflict, over 1.4 million remain displaced within the country. Most are sheltering in remote and hard to reach areas, and more than half of them are children. 

Through the joint integrated Rapid Response Missions, UNICEF, WFP and partners have achieved: 

• Food assistance provided to more than 500,000 people

• 64,000 children under 5 screened for malnutrition 

• More than 2,600 severely acutely malnourished children treated

• 100,000 children vaccinated against measles and 83,000 against polio

• More than 62,000 people provided safe access to water and 23,000 reached with hygiene supplies.

• One-third of the more than 6,000 children in South Sudan who are identified as unaccompanied and separated have been found on the Rapid Response Missions. They are supported and registered for family reunification. 

In addition to the 25 joint missions, WFP has also conducted close to 20 rapid response missions to bring food assistance to remote, hard-to-reach areas using airlifts, airdrops, river transport by boat and barges. WFP has conducted more than 2,000 aircraft rotations for food deliveries since March.   

With the dry season in sight, and a possible increase in fighting likely to bring new risks to people in conflict-affected areas, UNICEF and WFP are preparing for more missions to reach more communities in need and to provide continued assistance for the areas that have already been reached.


Notes to editors:

For more information, please contact the UNICEF UK press office on 020 7375 6030 or media@unicef.org.uk


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