As conflict spread through South Sudan's Unity State, residents fled the towns of Bentiu, Leer and Panyijar. Thousands sought refuge in the relatively peaceful small town of Ganyiel, in Panyijar County. Most of the inhabitants of Ganyiel are pastoralists. They grow some crops for immediate consumption but their harvest was washed away by floods last year.
With little of their harvest left after the floods, the people of Ganyiel had relied on goods reaching them via the river. But the river transport routes have been closed due to the conflict, leaving most markets empty and many of the most vulnerable people without food and other basic necessities.
Elisabeth Nyachuit and her two children were displaced by the conflict elsewhere in Unity State and fled to Ganyiel for safety. Even though the fighting has largely spared this town, there has still been very little food available here due to the loss of the local harvest to floods combined with the shutdown of the local markets because of insecurity -- leaving both members of the host community as well as the internally displaced people without much to eat.
Many IDPs resorted to eating wild nuts and a plant they referred to as 'water lily,' which they harvested from the river. Anna Nyankun, seen in here eating the uncooked plant, said she had to wade in neck-deep water to gather this small portion of food.
Ganyiel is inaccessible by land or river, so in March, WFP deployed one of its mobile distribution teams to Ganyiel and moved urgently needed food in by air for the IDPs and local community, using a combination of airdrops from a plane and helicopter airlifts.
WFP's mobile distribution team was able to distribute lifesaving food to more than 25,000 people in Ganyiel, including both IDPs and conflict-affected town residents. Veronica Koang, on the right, smiles as she lifts a bag of sorghum provided by WFP at a food distribution.
WFP also provided specialised nutrition products to help tackle malnutrition, especially among children. Here, Veronica Koang carries packs of Super Cereal Plus she received for her children. Super Cereal is a highly fortified blend of maize and soy flour, and includes dairy protein that's especially important for young ones.
Across South Sudan, WFP and its partners have reached around half a million people displaced or otherwise directly affected by conflict since the crisis erupted in December, in addition to providing continued support for a large number of refugees and other food-insecure families outside the conflict areas. WFP is working to reach hundreds of thousands more people in need as quickly as possible, using mobile assistance teams and airdrops of food in remote, conflict-affected communities.
19 June 2014 South Sudanese Refugees Worry About Future