News / Africa

Aid Agencies Fear for Survival of Sudan’s Blue Nile Refugees

Women who recently crossed over from Sudan's Blue Nile state with little food or water fill jerry cans at a watering hole called km 18, June 20, 2012 (H. McNeish/VOA)
Women who recently crossed over from Sudan's Blue Nile state with little food or water fill jerry cans at a watering hole called km 18, June 20, 2012 (H. McNeish/VOA)
Hannah McNeish
UPPER NILE STATE - South Sudan, Around 35,000 people have poured over the border to South Sudan from Sudan's war-torn Blue Nile state in recent weeks.  Increasingly malnourished, exhausted and sick, they are arriving to overcrowded and ill-prepared sites that aid agencies fear could run out of water and be cut off by rains very soon. 

At a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) near the border with Sudan, concerned mothers sit on a mat cradling frail babies that wail from thirst and malnutrition.

Anima Hassan Omer is caring for her seriously malnourished and dehydrated granddaughter Khalifa.

The baby’s mother went missing on the road when she went to fetch water, after the family fled shelling, bomber planes and soldiers who came to their village called Kukur in Blue Nile’s Bau County.

“When we came from Kukur, we brought a small amount of food and a little water.  For five days we had no food-we ate the leaves of the tree and drank any water we found on the road-the baby drank the same water.  The child arrived here very poorly and now, after six days here the diarrhea is still running.  She is only eight-months-old,” Omer recalled.

Omer says that when the family left Kukur, they brought only a small amount of grain and a little bit of water.  She says for five days they ate leaves from the trees and drank any water they found on the road.  

She says that Khalifa, just eight-months-old, also survived only on dirty water and arrived at this site extremely ill.

In the searing 40-degree heat on a thankfully overcast day, mostly women and elderly people shuffle in or are sometimes carried by relatives to another mat where aid workers pour out cup after cup of rehydrating fluids.

MSF Doctor Erna Rijnierse says last week, the clinic treated 500 people, more than half of whom had diarrhea.  Half way through this week, there have been 900 consultations.

A malnourished baby in a hospital run by Doctors Without borders in Jamam, Upper Nile state, June 20, 2012 (Hannah McNeish/VOA).A malnourished baby in a hospital run by Doctors Without borders in Jamam, Upper Nile state, June 20, 2012 (Hannah McNeish/VOA).
x
A malnourished baby in a hospital run by Doctors Without borders in Jamam, Upper Nile state, June 20, 2012 (Hannah McNeish/VOA).
A malnourished baby in a hospital run by Doctors Without borders in Jamam, Upper Nile state, June 20, 2012 (Hannah McNeish/VOA).
Rijnierse says the lack of water is compounding problems of dehydration and worsening acute child malnutrition among under-five-year-olds. “First of all, there is a lack of hygiene, there is a lack of latrines, there is a lack of hand washing points.  There is however treated water that MSF is providing," she stated. "On the other hand, people have been having diarrhea for quite a long time and one can imagine that if you are already vulnerable, you have very little to eat, you have been a refugee for over four weeks, if you suffer from diarrhea, then it is quite easy to cross the line between being moderate or being a normal kid into severe kid malnutrition”

Eighteen-year-old Amin Anesem Chapa says she left Bau county with 25 family members two months ago.

She says there is not enough to eat and four of the eight children have diarrhea. “We left because of the war and to get an education.  But this situation here is not good," she said. "There is not enough to eat and four of the eight children have diarrhea”

​Doctors Without Borders also says the lack of shelter and mosquito nets and the start of the six-month rains are bringing in the first cases of malaria and respiratory diseases.

Aid agencies are concerned that water could dry up within a week’s time if no more is found, while rains could cut off access to aid agencies and water trucks.

Having expected 75,000 refugees and now dealing with more than 100,000, a new camp is being set up, while existing camps are overcrowded and have suffered water shortages for months.

Doctors Without Borders is rushing to try to vaccinate 90 percent of the young children in this camp against measles and is also preparing for a potential cholera outbreak.

MSF coordinator for Upper Nile refugees Patrick Swartenbroexk says time is running out for these refugees who are facing dire health problems if aid agencies do not provide basic needs.

“Worst case scenario; we will have a mortality rate very high, maybe with some outbreaks starting because the density of population is very high, hygiene is very bad, not enough water," said Swartenbroexk. "That would be catastrophic.”

UNHCR has said that it is expecting up to 15,000 more people to cross the border in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, aid agencies are rushing to try to provide more shelter, sanitation, health services, and water to stop people dying from dehydration.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid