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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora