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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid