News / Africa

Desperation, Hunger in South Sudan as Refugees Flee Bombs

Women wait for grain to feed their families, at Doro refugee camp in South Sudan, December 2011.
Women wait for grain to feed their families, at Doro refugee camp in South Sudan, December 2011.
Hannah McNeish

Desperation and hunger are growing in South Sudan's Doro refugee camp where more than 20,000 people have fled bombings in Sudan's Blue Nile state in recent weeks. Thousands more refugees are expected to arrive at this unprepared makeshift camp seeking safety and services.

At a woodland camp in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State, hundreds of people surround a few plastic tables where aid agencies are registering about 1,000 refugees daily. They say they are fleeing aerial bombardment in Sudan’s war torn Blue Nile state.

Aid agencies expect by the end of the year that some 30,000 people will be in Doro, about 40 kilometers from the border with Sudan. The majority arrive sick and hungry, having made the long journey by foot.

Food shortage

Raking his fingers through the dust and straw, and holding bits to his mouth, Naam Mahadin said his family of 13 has not eaten since they got here last week, as they were too exhausted to register.

“We walked here. And when we got tired we would sleep by the side of the road. If we did not get a chance to stop and sit down to make a fire, we just ate handfuls of sorghum we were carrying raw," said Mahadin. "When we arrived, I had to lie down for five days as I was so tired. We hope we will be given food now that we register.”

Many others in the camp who arrived weeks ago are still hungry. The U.N.’s World Food Program battles logistical and supply problems to get enough food into this remote area as more people pour in.

Conflict has raged in Blue Nile state between Sudan government troops and forces that fought alongside South Sudan before it gained independence in July.

Myriad challenges threaten

Village Chief Oura Kina said all of Shali village’s 5,000 residents ran away when Sudan’s Antonov planes bombed in November. But Kina said some are using what little energy they have to make the dangerous trip back to Blue Nile to fetch food as panic sets in at the lack of food to feed children whose bellies are swelling.

“It’s very bad for the people of Shali being here in Bunj. The life here will be very hard for us as there is no food or water," said Kina. "People keep on asking me, 'the children are hungry, how are we going to survive in this place?' I’ve heard about and seen people who have walked back home to bring food. Even as we speak now, some are on the way there and some coming back.”

Kids play in the dirt at Doro refugee camp in South Sudan, December 2011.
Kids play in the dirt at Doro refugee camp in South Sudan, December 2011.

With refugees still sleeping rough after carrying very little with them, or leaving items on the way and no sanitation facilities in the camp, aid agencies are dealing with a wide range of sicknesses. There is fear of disease outbreaks due to a lack of toilets and water.

Charity ramps up

Medical charity Doctors Without borders [MSF] arrived in Doro at the beginning of December to run a clinic, and have seen high levels of malnutrition, malaria, skin diseases and respiratory diseases from a lack of shelter, food and sanitation.

Speaking from MSF’s camp in Doro, as noisy crickets chirp in the background, Emergency Field Coordinator Asaad Khadhum said the charity also is planning a mobile clinic and one near the border to try and treat people early that otherwise might not survive the arduous journey.

“It’s a long walking distance for them and we had some concerns about their health status while they are making this trip, etcetera, for four, five days, it is very tiring. And if the people have a sort of sickness or health issues on the borders, they really cannot make it,” said Khadhum.

The state government in Upper Nile has wider concerns over food security and health services for up to 100,000 people. It says that in addition to an expected 30,000 people in Doro by the end of December, Maban county has received an additional 15,000 returnees from the north since southern secession, and flooding in August ruined local harvests.

While aid agencies rush to treat widespread hunger and disease in Doro, all hopes are on a good January harvest to prevent a food crisis next year.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China-India Border Standoff Continues as Leaders Hold Summit

New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in disputed region of Ladakh More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid