Kiwi couple helping traumatised refugees from South Sudan
Kiwi couple helping traumatised refugees from South Sudan on break in NZ
A Kiwi couple who have been on the frontlines helping South Sudanese refugees are hoping David Shearer’s new role as Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG) to South Sudan, will help raise awareness of the situation.
Tim and Helen Manson have been working for Tearfund’s partner, Tutapona, on the Ugandan, South Sudan border, providing trauma support to refugees fleeing from the conflict. They are both due to arrive back in New Zealand on Friday December 17.
Mr Manson, Tutapona’s Ugandan country director said, every day for the past year he had witnessed heart-breaking scenes of people traumatised by the conflict in South Sudan flowing into refugee camps.
“People are arriving in the camps by the hundreds – many with just the clothes on their back. When they see our staff they often collapse from exhaustion and from the trauma they’ve experienced.”
Many had witnessed their closest family members killed right before their eyes, Mr Manson said.
“Mothers arrive without their husbands and are left to try and build a temporary life for themselves with young children at their ankles. I often imagine, ‘what if it was one of my children caught up in this horrendous violence?’.”
Mr Manson’s hope is that the appointment of Mr Shearer will help raise South Sudan’s need among Kiwis and that it would get a higher profile at the UN Security Council. He said the international community had to be more proactive about helping people fleeing violence as the need in South Sudan was huge.
“In situations like the one in South
Sudan, the New Zealand public may feel powerless, but there
are humanitarian organisations who are helping to deal with
the fall-out of this crisis who need what Kiwis can
He also encouraged New Zealanders to write to their MPs to help raise the issue higher at government level.
· Following a power crisis which erupted in Juba in 2013, South Sudan has spiralled into a national, political and ethnic conflict, with economic decline, food insecurity and outbreaks of disease exacerbating the situation.
· More than 2.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes.
· About 4.8 million people are in desperate need for humanitarian assistance.