News / Africa

    Health Situation In South Sudan Refugee Camps Alarming

    South Sudan One YearSouth Sudan One Year
    x
    South Sudan One Year
    South Sudan One Year
    Lisa Schlein
    GENEVA — The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR reports aid agencies are racing to reverse the alarming health situation in South Sudan camps. The UNHCR says aid workers are intensifying efforts to bring down the high rates of malnutrition, disease and death among Sudanese refugees in two camps in Unity State and Upper Nile State.  

    The U.N. refugee agency reports South Sudan is now hosting 170,000 Sudanese refugees.  And, it says more are arriving from South Kordofan and Blue Nile every day seeking refuge in, what it calls, some of the most inhospitable places imaginable.  

    Many of the 60,000 refugees in Yida camp in Unity state are suffering from a variety of illnesses.  Children make up more than a quarter of this population.  

    Health workers in the camp first saw a significant hike in death rates among refugee children in late June and early July.  The group, Doctors Without Borders reports an average of five children are dying every day, mostly from diarrhea and infections.

    UNHCR spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming, says aid agencies are providing emergency treatment and have been working to mitigate the risk of water-borne and hygiene-related diseases.  As a consequence, she says mortality and morbidity rates have stabilized and even decreased in the last three weeks.

    But, she says the situation remains extremely worrying.

    "This is a race against time basically," said Fleming. "People are coming across in absolutely horrendous, fragile conditions.  They are extremely vulnerable and when the conditions are not fantastic when they cross the border in a place where there is huge flooding and where the food can only be airlifted in.  It is probably one of the most challenging operations for humanitarian aid workers including UNHCR that we have experienced."  

    Potable water in Yida camp is in short supply.  The UNHCR so far has dug two out of the six additional boreholes that will double the supply of drinkable water in the camp.   

    Fleming says the agency together with the NGO Solidarite is conducting a 40-day bucket cleaning and chlorination campaign at water points.  She says drainage systems are being improved to reduce the risk of contamination and water-diseases from standing water.

    She says rains have flooded nearby roads, turning Yida into a virtual island.  Thus, airlifts are the only way to get life-saving aid into the camp.  She says the UNHCR plans to airlift an additional 8,500 plastic sheets and 15,000 mosquito nets for new arrivals.

    Meanwhile, she says the situation in Batil camp in Upper Nile state is also of great concern.  She says Sudanese refugees fleeing war and hunger are coming across into South Sudan in a fragile condition.

    "This is really pointing to a very dangerous and horrifying situation across the border where reports of shelling continue, where people are not being able to access food and where they are having to trek for days on end to reach safety across the border," she said.

    Batil camp houses 35,000 refugees.  The U.N. refugee agency reports one in three children there is believed to be malnourished.  It says the refugees are suffering from watery diarrhea, respiratory tract infections and malaria.  

    Aid agencies are setting up therapeutic feeding programs to help children recover from moderate acute to severe acute malnutrition.  Health agencies have set up surveillance centers to monitor for possible outbreaks of diarrheal and other diseases.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora