National, News

At least 500 Abyei IDPs receive food assistance

By William Madouk


About 500 displaced Ngok citizens who fled persistent conflict in the Abyei Administrative Area have received food aid from the World Food Programme (WFP) in Aweil, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State.

Yolanda Elly, the WFP Deputy Head of Office in Aweil, stated that beneficiaries are offered a one-month food ratio that includes cereals, pulses, and salts, including blankets, supplementary feeding (CSB++) for pregnant and lactating mothers and girls.

She added that the food distribution in Akong Village of Aweil East County was specifically for IDPs affected by the inter-communal conflict between Ngok of Abyei and Twic of Warrap State.

“Today (yesterday) in Akong, we are serving IDPS who came from Abyei during the inter-communal fighting that happened in Abyei, and the beneficiaries have settled here for almost three years,” Yolanda noted.

“Some went back, and during the recent attack, we heard that some were killed and others now fear going back. So, here today,” she explained.

According to her, the general food distribution programme targets around 130,000 families. Adding to that, in January, the World Food Programme distributed aid to 2,000 households.

“The beneficiaries today (yesterday) that received food in this location are about 500 because we concluded the first distribution in January, meaning others were served in January, but this one today is those that are left,” she notes.

According to the WFP organization, Aweil East County is classified as the worst hunger-hit county under IPC 4, forcing charity organizations to prioritize the location and start distribution as early as January.

“Normally, our lean season starts in May, which is when the food basket is finished by the beneficiaries, but now with IPC results, the situation in this place is bad; we started distribution as early as January because of IPC,” she lamented.

Amid rising needs from the vulnerable, Yolanda raised concern about scarce funds, which, according to her, would last for only seven months, and if nothing is done by donors, worse is yet to come.

“The little we have at least can take them up to seven months of support, but I don’t know how we can manage them because they are still looking for the resources here and there,” she underscored.

She cited that they don’t serve everyone, at least the most vulnerable who cannot have anything at home and no source of livelihood—those are the ones who are getting this food support.

“WFP has prioritized the location based on the vulnerability of the place, but resources are not enough; some locations in the state have already been taken out because the money is not enough,” she continued.

One of the beneficiaries, Ajok Majak, a mother of seven children, said her situation was miserable, but the little food ration she received from WFP would help a lot.

“This is the first food distribution I am receiving; I have never had any assistance, and as you can see from the clothes I am wearing, I am really in terrible condition,” said Ajok.

Narrating how she was surviving after fleeing conflict in Abyei, Ajok cited that since they arrived in Aweil last year, she could clear people’s farms, collect firewood, sell drinking water in the market, and use what she earned to feed the family.

“Thanks to the WFP for food distribution. The little we received today is of great help, although not enough, and backs up what I have been doing.

Another beneficiary, Joice Jokudu Amos, 30, a mother of six children, said she fled inter-communal fighting in Abyei with her children on foot to Aweil East.

“I used to sell sugar cane in the market so that I could get money to buy maize flour for children or sometimes sell water,” she added. “I will continue doing my business because getting this ration doesn’t mean I should cease work. And I really appreciate WFP’s support,” she expressed.

Jokudu highlighted that what she received might take a month or two weeks, although the ratio is meant for a one-month period.

Equally, Atong Atuer, 30, a mother of six kids who cheated death in the Sudan war, said she now has three months in South Sudan.

“We have received some food items, but it’s not enough; it would be enough if had another job, but I don’t have one,” she added. “When we arrived, we got support from the families; some gave us a tin of sorghum or half until WFP’s support today.”

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