News

    Charity Workers Say Time Running Out to Help South Sudan Refugees

    Watering hole for South Sudan refugees in Jamam, Upper Nile State
    Watering hole for South Sudan refugees in Jamam, Upper Nile State

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Hannah McNeish

    More than 100,000 refugees have fled conflict in Sudan’s war-torn border states. Since June, just weeks before the country split, they sought refuge in the newly-independent south.  But having escaped violence and aerial bombardment, the refugees now find themselves in another precarious situation, due to food and water shortages in South Sudan camps.



    In Jamam, Upper Nile State, a dried up watering hole has now become a bowl of cracked, springy clay. Women submerged in small pits spend hours each day scooping up dirty water.

    Women scooping up dirty water in Jamam
    Women scooping up dirty water in Jamam, Upper Nile State - South Sudan (VOA Photo- H. McNeish)

    Macda Doka Waka, 19, says her family fled here two months ago when the bombs fell on her village of Kukur, in Sudan’s Blue Nile state. Her husband is one of the rebel soldiers that President Omar al-Bashir has been fighting in Blue Nile since September, after violence spread in June from neighboring South Kordofan. Since then, no aid has been allowed into these states.  Harvests have failed and routes largely have been cut off.  These refugees are now relying on international charities in South Sudan for survival.

    Kukur says she and her mother spend three hours at this watering hole, digging in the sludge to fill one jerry can with grayish water.

    “We know that this water is not good," she admits, "but it is because we do not have water there.  We used to make lines and take water from the tap, but since two days we have not had water and that is why all of us shifted here."

    At bustling water points, squabbles and scuffles often break out between women, often waiting days in 45 C heat for water trucks to come and fill the lines of containers snaking along the cracked earth.

    Women dig in the mud for dirty water, in Jamam, Upper Nile State - South Sudan
    Women dig in the mud for dirty water, in Jamam, Upper Nile State - South Sudan(VOA Photo - H. McNeish)

    A man with a whip and another with a pad and pen are in charge of trying to maintain order.  But as the sun sets on Jamam, dejected women gather up their empty jerry cans and buckets. Tensions will only mount tomorrow.

    Daudi Makamba, a water expert for the international charity OXFAM, says the organization is struggling to provide enough water for more than 35,000 people in the camp. Wells have collapsed and water-carrying trucks cannot keep up with demand.

    “For the moment we have an average of five to six liters per person per day," explains Makamba. "For survival, it is from three liters up to seven liters.  But for basic water needs, such as drinking, bathing and washing, we need at least to have from 7.5 to 15 liters per person per day.”

    A woman leaving water point with empty jerry can - fights are common as desperation sets in
    A woman leaving water point with empty jerry can - fights are common as desperation sets in
    Makamba fears the agency will fall further behind if there is another large influx of people.  Some estimate that up to 80,000 refugees could arrive when the rains start in late April and food stocks across the border run out.

    Sheikh Osman Alamin, 43, a farmer from Bau County, says he fled bomber planes in Blue Nile three months ago. He says life had become very difficult there because there is not even a market or anywhere to go and buy things to eat.  If you can go and scavenge sorghum inside the houses of people who left, then fine he says -- but there is not even any salt. Sitting on a mat outside a makeshift shelter made of plastic sheeting, Alamin says that even now the refugees are not settled.

    Within weeks, most of this floodplain site will be a mudbath, and complaints about the lack of food and water will increase as roads to this barren haven are also submerged.

    OXFAM is appealing for help in trying to resolve supply problems now.  It says it will be three times more expensive when the rains come and everything will have to be flown in and drilling boreholes will be even more difficult.

    Alnoor Abudik Said, a Bau County chief, says he thinks President al-Bashir wants to rid Blue Nile of black people by bombing them. He adds that he doubts any peace will come soon enough to allow people back.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: KIRANGA GATIMU
    March 25, 2012 1:46 AM
    In his 2001 address to the World Health Assembly, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said:“ The biggest enemy of health in the developing world is poverty”. In Souther Sudan. lack of basic iresources are historically linked to the attitidude and view of Africans as no more that "superior monkeys" As Fanon ance observed! Woulds from historical injustices unfortunately will tike a long time to heal!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora