About 8 000 people had been forced to flee South Sudan’s Wau town following a surge in violence which began on Monday. Picture: AP photo
Johannesburg – The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Wednesday that 8 000 people had been forced to flee South Sudan’s Wau town following a surge in violence which began on Monday.

IOM reported that its teams and relief agencies are helping new arrivals at existing displacement sites which are already hosting nearly 43 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who fled their homes due to insecurity in June 2016.

Displacement Tracking and Monitoring (DTM) teams were reportedly deployed to the displacement camps in Wau on April 11 and 12 to assess the scale of new displacement.

Between April 10 and 12, approximately 4 000 people arrived at the protection of civilians (PoC) site adjacent to the UN Mission in South Sudan base, joining more than 25 200 IDPs already sheltering in the site, IOM said, adding that an additional 3 800 people arrived at the cathedral site, hosting nearly 8 000 people since June.

“With thousands of people fearful to return to their homes, humanitarian needs in Wau continue to grow,” said IOM South Sudan chief of mission, William Barriga.

“The displacement figure is likely to increase over the coming days as families continue to seek protection at displacement sites," he added.

The United Nations mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said at least 84 civilians sought shelter at a protection of civilians’ site, with an influx of about 3 000 people, mostly women and children at a Catholic church in Wau.

UNMISS added that the bodies of 16 civilians were discovered by its peacekeepers on patrol on Monday, with another 10 people wounded after fighting broke out.

The fighting followed the deployment of Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) troops, accompanied by heavy military equipment, to south-western Wau late last week.

Clashes spread to Wau after a number of government SPLA soldiers were killed in an ambush on Sunday to the south of the town of Wau.

Aid agencies say more than 7.5 million people, out of an estimated population in South Sudan of 12 million, are in need of humanitarian assistance, including more than 4.9 million people facing severe food insecurity due to displacement, conflict and economic decline since mid-December 2013.