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25 Aug 2014
UN Humanitarian Coordinator Toby Lanzer walking through flooded protection site at UNMISS base in Unity State capital Bentiu where more than 40,000 people are seeking shelter. Photo: UNMISS / JC Mcilwaine
Living conditions for displaced people at a United Nations base in Bentiu town in South Sudan’s Unity State have been described by a senior UN official as “very dire”.
Toby Lanzer, the UN humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan led a delegation that included British and Dutch diplomats to assess the situation at a UN Protection of civilian site on Sunday.
According to the UN, the base is hosting more than 40,000 people who have been displaced by fighting between government troops and those who are supporting former Vice-President Riek Machar.
Toby Lanzer says people at the base don’t have a dry place to stay or any firewood with which to cook and the sanitary conditions have deteriorated at the base in Bentiu.
“Conditions here in the United Nations base are very, very dire at the moment. The base is in a flood plain. We are in the heart of the rainy season. We’ve had days of torrential rain and the water, at the best of times for the people who have sought refuge inside our base, the water is knee deep and often when it does rain, it goes up to waist height.” (23″)
Mr. Lanzer says that aid agencies are working very closely with the UN mission in South Sudan to try and make a terrible situation just a little bit less bad.
Derrick Mbatha, United Nations