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tuesday, july 23:

After discussions with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) for displaced families, the decision has been made to preposition the emergency shelter and store the 1,152 disaster relief tents in Juba to be used as contingency stocks in the future. The team has returned and the deployment is complete.

thursday, july 5:

Communities have been torn apart in South Sudan following border tensions with its neighbouring country the Republic of Sudan. Families that had been living together for decades north of the border before South Sudan gained independence a year ago have fled their homes over the conflict. Refugee camps are filling up and many are still homeless with nowhere to go.

Tom Dingwall (UK) is part of a two-person ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) currently in the African country. The team is discussing a tent distribution plan with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) for displaced families. ShelterBox interviewed Tom about his previous experience in the world's newest country just before he left on deployment:

You were in South Sudan recently – what were you doing there and how long were you there for? I was seconded to the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), to plan and deliver integrated operations countrywide. I joined UNMISS in August 2011 and left in February 2012 on completion of my tenure.

Having been there before and spent time in South Sudan, do you feel this gives you an advantage on the deployment? Absolutely. I believe that my appointment with UNMISS provided a clear understanding of the security issues, logistical demands and the challenges facing international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) on the ground. Armed with this knowledge, I'm confident that I can effectively contribute to the ShelterBox deployment.

Will you be using contacts you made there previously? Absolutely. We will seek advice from those well qualified to provide it, and work closely with the United Nations (UN) and other humanitarian actors to provide a coordinated and measured response.

How important do you think collaboration is for ShelterBox on deployment and why? I believe that collaboration and coordination are imperative during complex emergencies, especially those bordered by conflict. Collaboration and coordination ensure a common understanding of the situation, and allow each organisation to bring their strengths to the fore. A joined-up response will promote safety, professionalism and efficiency; all critical qualities for INGOs funded by donors.

With ShelterBox disaster relief tents en route to South Sudan's capital Juba, the team has also been meeting with other key stakeholders for its operations including UNMISS, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UK embassy.

thursday, june 28:

A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is travelling to South Sudan on 29 June to discuss the distribution of emergency shelter with other aid agencies, in response to continuing conflict in the African country.

Sudan split into two countries in July 2011 after the people of the south voted for independence. However there are still unresolved issues between Sudan's Khartoum and South Sudan's Juba, including disputes over the border around Abyei; and contestation over oil-rich areas. People have therefore become displaced from their homes.

Not only this but people from the south who had been living further north due to displacement from more than 50 years of civil war are now being forced to return to South Sudan, from what have been their homes for decades. They have nowhere to go. ShelterBox is responding to fill this void and working towards bringing the displaced families shelter and dignity.

SRT members Tom Lay (UK) and Tom Dingwall (UK) will be meeting with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) to coordinate a tent distribution plan.

Tom Lay says that collaboration is key in this response:

'Given the complexity of the situation in South Sudan and the ever-changing developments in this ongoing crisis it is crucial that ShelterBox liaises with other actors in the humanitarian community. We must ensure that any ShelterBox response targets the people in most need efficiently, safely and in line with the wider humanitarian response strategy.

'Multi-agency collaboration allows resources to be consolidated. This results in a more financially economical distribution of aid as organisations are accountable to each other as well as to their donors. The more support we can receive from other organisations means we can spend a greater percentage of each donation directly on the aid allowing us to provide more families with shelter.'

58,000 people are currently living in Yida, a refugee camp in Unity State that is close to the contested border, and approximately 1,000 more arrive each day. ShelterBox disaster relief tents are en route to the affected areas.

Deployment photograph taken by Reuters/Goran Tomasevic, courtesy the Thomson Reuters Foundation – AlertNet. back