Caught in the Middle
The Jie in the region of Kassengor have been identified as one of the most marginalized and hardest hit communities in South Sudan, yet very little help has reached the 4,000 plus people currently surviving by foraging for leaves and berries. In fact the UN report on the plight of the Jie in July 2018 sounds very similar to the recent article written in July 2019.
Right now ACROSS is implementing an intervention in partnership with Diakonie, Katastrophenhilfe (a German relief organisation) that will hopefully bring some reprieve to these desperate people. But things aren’t going quite as planned.
We knew this region to be remote. In fact, the location is the primary reason that little help has reached the area in recent years. To put it simply, Kassengor is caught in the middle. In the middle of two feuding tribal groups, and in the middle of (yet too far from) the two administrations of Boma and Kapoeta States. But going to hard-to-reach areas seems to be a specialty for the dedicated team at ACROSS.
Insecurity and conflict are difficult, yet common obstacles to programme implementation in South Sudan. ACROSS works to maintain good relationships in the communities surrounding areas we serve. This is in large part due to our diverse South Sudanese staff and our long history of service. ACROSS is also one of the few organisations currently working in both Boma and Kapoeta States. Even still, our team has found reaching the Jie to be incredibly challenging.
The team travelled from Boma to Kassengor in advance of the supplies scheduled to be air-lifted into the region, but seasonal rains had made ground transport impossible. Finding no other option, they began to walk. It took three days of walking through mud by day and sleeping with mosquitos at night to finally reach the community.
Please pray for the ACROSS team as they now begin to implement the project that will supply emergency food, seeds, and tools to the Jie community. When accessibility improves with the dry season, we will also drill one new borehole and rehabilitate three others to provide much needed clean water.