A team of five from Handicap International’s headquarters in Lyon, France, will arrive in South Sudan this weekend to begin responding to the crisis currently enveloping the country. In the last few weeks, nearly 200,000 people have fled their homes to escape violent clashes between armed groups. In this, one of the poorest countries in the world, many people already live in very precarious situations and will need immediate assistance to ensure their survival.
Handicap International, which has been working in the region since 2006, was forced to suspend its activities and evacuate some staff members last month. The organization’s office in Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, was destroyed as were the offices of most other NGOs in the city. The team arriving in the country on Sunday will reopen Handicap International’s office in the South Sudanese capital of Juba and begin assessing the needs of the displaced.
"We are very concerned about the lack of resources on site," says Lucile Papon, who is responsible for Handicap International’s operations. "We expect the demand for basics necessities like housing, food, and health care will be huge. Our staff will pay particular attention to reaching people who are unable to access help on their own such as the disabled and the elderly."
Handicap International, which regularly intervenes in conflict situations, will deploy mobile teams to identify vulnerable people and provide them with direct assistance such as health care and refer them to other organizations offering additional services. Staff also hope to begin offering wounded people rehabilitative care.
"It is essential to take care of the wounded as soon as possible to prevent the deterioration of their condition and the development of permanent disabilities,” says Papon. “We will start our assessment in a few days so we can deliver a response that is appropriate to the size and scope of the crisis.”