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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid