Armed fighting, which began in South Sudan’s capital of Juba in mid-December, quickly spread to other parts of the country, leaving hundreds of thousands displaced and seeking safety in neighboring countries. A cessation of hostilities agreement was signed in January by both parties to the conflict, however, fighting continues.
Hundreds of volunteers from both the South Sudan Red Cross and the Red Cross/Red Crescent societies in neighboring countries continue to assist those affected by the violence as they relocate to safer areas.
The American Red Cross has committed $125,000 to support the ongoing relief efforts in Uganda. The relief efforts cover a variety of needs including things like registration at a reception center, transit and assistance in settling into camps, first aid, emotional support, hygiene promotion, distribution of relief items and reconnecting separated families.
Freda Kajoki Igga is a volunteer at the Adjumani branch of the Uganda Red Cross Society. Since January 2014, she has been helping refugees fleeing violence in South Sudan with registration, ration cards and relief items, such as tents and tarps, kitchen sets, and mosquito nets.
Freda registers refugees at the Dzaipi transit center, where up to 3,000 refugees arrived each day in the beginning of the crisis.
“Refugees arrive here very exhausted and in need of a place to rest. The transit centre is crowded and the few tents we have are occupied, forcing them to take a break under the shade of the trees,” says Freda. “Some parents arrive here without their children, while some children also arrive unaccompanied. As soon as we reunite them, we help them move to the settlement camps.”
“The language barrier is often a challenge for us. To overcome that, we have identified volunteer translators from within the refugees to assist us,” adds Freda. “On busy days, we hardly get a chance to take a break. But that does not make us despair as our concern is to ensure that people are properly settled.”
The Uganda Red Cross has also provided hygiene education and supported government efforts to vaccinate more than 17,000 children against polio, helping prevent the spread of disease in the camps.