SUDAN: Families in dire need of food

Summary: After days of fighting between Northern troops and Southern militias in the town of Malakal, the priority now is getting supplies to returning refugee families.

[10 February 2011] - Families who took refuge in the local SOS Children's Village in Malakal are gradually returning home, but many of them have lost everything due to lootings. In the community, there is a major shortage of food so SOS Children's Villages is going to transport food packages via airfreight from Khartoum to Malakal to help the most vulnerable children and their families.

Fighting between Northern soldiers and Southern militias lasted for three days, claiming the lives of an estimated eleven civilians and more than 50 soldiers. UN peacekeepers are now patrolling the streets of Malakal and have positioned tanks to re-establish order. However, some members of the militias are hiding in the area and the inhabitants still live in fear of further attacks.

The SOS Children's Village in Malakal, which provided shelter to over 150 refugee families during the past days, is busy helping those families to cope with their difficult situation. Alwock Dok, the Director of the SOS Children's Village in Malakal, said that some families that have already left the village are faced with the complete loss of their belongings, which were looted in the chaos of the attacks. The most pressing need at the moment is basic food such as wheat, oil, sugar and lentils. As the only safe way to send food packages to Malakal is by air, SOS Children will transport food from Khartoum to Malakal to help the most vulnerable families. 

Soaring food prices, returning refugees and the imminent secession of South Sudan from the North have greatly affected the supply chain of food in a country already strongly dependant on food aid. "Food supply will really be a serious problem for the people", says Alwock Dok. "Already before the clashes, sorghum and greens were difficult to obtain at the local market of Malakal, most of the food was from the north. We had witnessed that there was less food available regionally."

Some northern-based suppliers as well as neighbouring Uganda and Kenya had also delayed the shipping of goods to traders before the referendum and many city traders in Malakal who are originally from the North had closed their shops and departed in fear of reprisals against them after the referendum. "Now with some stocks robbed, this is an enormous stress to the community", adds Alwock Dok.


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