News / Africa

Disease, Malnutrition Plague Growing South Sudan Refugee Camp

Refugees take shelter from the scorching sun as they wait to register at Yida refugee camp in South Sudan's Upper Nile, August 2012. (VOA - H. McNeish)Refugees take shelter from the scorching sun as they wait to register at Yida refugee camp in South Sudan's Upper Nile, August 2012. (VOA - H. McNeish)
x
Refugees take shelter from the scorching sun as they wait to register at Yida refugee camp in South Sudan's Upper Nile, August 2012. (VOA - H. McNeish)
Refugees take shelter from the scorching sun as they wait to register at Yida refugee camp in South Sudan's Upper Nile, August 2012. (VOA - H. McNeish)
Hannah McNeish
YIDA, South Sudan — As conflict has raged in Sudan’s South Kordofan state and food supplies run low, a refugee camp over the border in South Sudan has swelled to more than 60,000 people. With the camp's food stocks set to run out next month, the United Nations is gearing up to deliver food, but a lack of sanitation continues to cause high levels of diarrheal diseases.

At a clinic run by medical charity Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF, children lie quietly on beds as concerned parents try in vain to swat away the army of flies trying to settle around the sick.

Yida refugee camp in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state has doubled in size since April, as food supplies ran out across the border in the Nuba Mountains, where Sudan has waged a war against rebels since June 2011.

Hygiene issues remain key

MSF’s emergency medical coordinator in Yida, Foura Sassou, said that despite improvements in the food situation, malnutrition among children remains high due to a lack of hygiene in the camp.

“From now the main health problem is malnutrition, and it’s the consequence from diarrhea," said Sassou. "This camp has about, more than 60,000 persons, and the problem of the issue of water is very big in this camp, and hygiene in general. And this problem gives diarrhea for the child, and after they become malnourished.”

Huwa Kua Tejni said that her family fled hunger and bombs one month ago, and her husband has continued moving south to look for work.

After queueing for soap, refugees in Yida camp gather in a straw hut to learn about basic sanitation and hand washing, in South Sudan's Upper Nile, August 2012. (VOA - H. McNeish)After queueing for soap, refugees in Yida camp gather in a straw hut to learn about basic sanitation and hand washing, in South Sudan's Upper Nile, August 2012. (VOA - H. McNeish)
x
After queueing for soap, refugees in Yida camp gather in a straw hut to learn about basic sanitation and hand washing, in South Sudan's Upper Nile, August 2012. (VOA - H. McNeish)
After queueing for soap, refugees in Yida camp gather in a straw hut to learn about basic sanitation and hand washing, in South Sudan's Upper Nile, August 2012. (VOA - H. McNeish)
Two of her five children, aged three and five, are now at the clinic being treated for malnutrition after suffering from diarrhea for weeks.

Since she is here alone, she said there is no one to build a toilet for the family.

“In the area we live in, there are no toilets, so we go to the toilet and when we come back we wash our hands, but not with soap," she said.  "Around where we are, we have not toilet, so we just go to the bush, as [the toilets] are very far away. I’m here alone without my husband and so nobody can build a toilet for us, and this is why we are affected with so many things.”

Improvements in progress

The U.N. says that it is increasing the construction of latrine building and water points in the sprawling camp, and soon will double the soap ration to try to stem disease outbreaks and the ensuing malnutrition.

In MSF’s clinic, parents like Tejni say that two meals of grains without any paste, and sometimes without salt, means that children often get sick.

Heavy rains have now blocked trucks delivering food to Yida camp, however, so there is only enough food for another month.

Imminent food drop

Eddie Rowe, deputy director of the U.N. World Food Programme in South Sudan, said the agency will start dropping food in the coming weeks.

“In country, we have enough stocks, [but] the biggest problem is to get the food into Yida," said Rowe. "So with this caseload, 60-61,000, we expect that 3,000 metric tons of food airdropped should take the distribution up to December. In the event of a new influx, we would have to expect another round of airdrops.”

But as rains and bombs continue to pour down on Nuba Mountains, inroads in sanitation and food could be quickly undone if another wave of refugees pours over the border.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs