As the conflict in South Sudan moves towards the 6th month, the intensity of the humanitarian crisis is intensifying. There have been 1.3 million people displaced from their homes, there is ongoing violence, cholera has broken out and pockets of severe malnutrition are emerging. The vast majority of displaced people are living in semi-urban and rural areas that are difficult to reach at the best of times, becoming increasingly difficult as the rainy season closes in. To address these challenges, the humanitarian community in South Sudan is establishing a mobile response mechanism across the sectors to make every effort to reach people in need. On May 6th we launched NP in South Sudan's Mobile Response Team (MRT) by accompanying the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on a nonfood item (NFI) distribution to Old Fangak, Fangak County, Jonglei State in South Sudan. NP's role was identify gaps in protection for a reported 1504 households who have been displaced due to the ongoing fighting in the area. The team consisted of three International Protection Officers (IPOs) – Thiago Wolfer, Zandro Escat, and Sterling Carter.
Old Fangak is a community of 1500 stretched along the River Phow (Bahr el-Zeraf) in Fangak County, northern Jonglei State, South Sudan. It was selected for NFI distribution due to the high number of Internally Displaced People’s (IDPs) fleeing fighting in Bentiu, Malakal, Bor, and Nasser who have had to run without their household items. Old Fangak is located deep in one of the world’s largest swamps, it is accessible only by river and foot, and many of the IDPs who sought shelter there had walked anywhere from two to eight days from New Fangak, Malakal, and Bor. The team sought to gain a deeper understanding of the relationships between IDPs and the host community in order to liaise with other organizations and establish response plans well-grounded in the physical safety and security of both IDP and host populations. The NP Team was able to provide direct protection for a small group of individuals experiencing direct threats to their physical safety and to provide protection and violence reduction support during the distribution. The team made several important contacts in the region, establishing links with local leaders, who have requested NP's support for ecumenical trainings on nonviolent conflict resolution and unarmed civilian peacekeeping.