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

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs