Southern Sudan: “Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst”
January 7, 2011 by Sophia Jones-Mwangi
|The IRC has been working to ensure that we are prepared for every likely scenario that may arise in the aftermath of Sunday's referendum in Southern Sudan. Christopher Scott/IRC|
As a leading humanitarian organization, the International Rescue Committee has more than 75 years of experience responding to the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Over the last few months our Horn and East Africa regional team, based in Nairobi, has been coordinating contingency planning meetings with colleagues in Southern Sudan and neighboring Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.
“The aim of these meetings is to ensure that we are prepared for every likely scenario that may arise in the aftermath of the referendum in Southern Sudan,” says the IRC’s regional director of operations, Nora Love. “In Southern Sudan we are ensuring that our projects and programs continue to provide services before, during and after the referendum. We are extending our health services to cater for the influx of returnees from the North to the South. We have stockpiles of medical and basic humanitarian supplies such as blankets, mats, mosquito nets soap, cooking sets, plastic sheeting and jerry cans, ready to be deployed as the need arises,” she continues.
The IRC’s country directors in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia have also prepared detailed plans should an emergency arise and displaced people start to cross the borders. In our camps in Ethiopia and Kenya we plan to provide emergency water, sanitation and hygiene. In Ethiopia a stock of blankets, cooking sets, soap and plastic sheeting – enough for several thousand people -- is on standby. In Uganda our primary focus will be health care assistance.
Should a full-blown emergency erupt, the IRC’s global Emergency Response Team has been put on standby to assist. These are trained and experienced staff based throughout the world who have specialist experience of humanitarian emergencies.
“Our hope is that the referendum and the days, weeks and months afterwards, go smoothly. However, planning for the worst case scenario is extremely important so that we are not caught unaware, but are prepared. So, we are hoping for the best and planning for the worst,’ explains Nora.