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Thursday 05 July 2012

Coordination key in South Sudan
Coordination key in South Sudan Response Team member Tom Dingwall outside ACTED's quarters in Juba, South Sudan, July 2012.

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. Read more about this deployment here.
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