News / Africa

Refugees in South Sudan Determined to Stay

An infant with nasally inserted feeding tube at the nutrition center, Yida refugee camp, South Sudan, Dec. 12, 2011.
An infant with nasally inserted feeding tube at the nutrition center, Yida refugee camp, South Sudan, Dec. 12, 2011.
Michael Onyiego

Next to the storehouse in Yida's village square, refugees line up for food rations meant to last their families the rest of the week. Each person receives three kilograms of sorghum. It’s not much, but it is all that can be spared.

Food has been sparse since the South Sudan camp was bombed in early November, and international organizations, including the World Food Program, have pulled out, ending regular shipments.

The majority of the food now comes from Canadian missionary organization Samaritan’s Purse. The group, which pulled only its international staff, still ships in some food by plane, but it's not enough to feed the entire camp.

The situation has only been exacerbated by recent fighting near the border, where Sudanese Army forces and the army of South Sudan battle each other in Jau, a town some 30 kilometers away.

The United Nations is hoping to move the camp's inhabitants to a safer area, but the refugees don't want to go, saying they would rather stay in Yida, where they hope to build their lives.

Children in need

In the Samaritan’s Purse nutrition center, Ramadan Abbas, an infant, sits with his older sister Estedad after receiving emergency feeding. Ramadan’s feeding tube has been inserted through his nose and taped to his face. His hands have also been taped to prevent him from removing it.

Estedad says Ramadan, who had not been eating and started to become sick, recently started having diarrhea and vomiting. One of more than 500 children in Yida who have become malnourished since the regular food shipments stopped last month, he has improved over the past two days.

The camp’s health coordinator, James Konda, also a refugee, says the food shipments are not only too little, but lack nutritional variety.

"It is the first time that I saw today they distributed [cooking] oil - it has never been distributed here," says Konda. "What I saw is only sorghum and sometimes beans. So the provision of proteins, even second-class proteins, is not provided adequately for the people."

With as many as 24,000 refugees living in Yida, and some 300 arriving each day, the nearby fighting only hampers United Nations efforts to provide, let alone expand, relief. U.N. Refugee Agency, UNHCR, desperately wants to relocate Yida’s population to Nyeel, 73 kilometers south, where it can allow them to provide greater assistance in a safer environment.

Resolved to stay in place

But refugees say the proposed site in Nyeel is a swamp and they don’t want to go.

"Our people are mountainous people," says Hussein Al Gumbullah, chairman of the Yida camp. "It is a danger for them to stay in jungles or swamp areas."

The refugees in Yida are mainly farmers from the Nuba mountains, and they argue that they will not be able to provide for themselves if moved to Nyeel.

And for many, dangers at Yida don't compare to the daily bombings they survived in Sudan’s South Kordofan state.

Even Estedad, with her younger brother in the nutrition center, says she prefers to stay in Yida, explaining that she feels safe here. While she sometimes worries that the Antonov planes of the Sudanese air force may return, she doesn’t want to move to Nyeel.

While getting food into camps remains a problem, things are improving in Yida - refugees have established schools for the children, and relations with the local community are good.

But UNHCR is still trying to convince the refugees to move to Nyeel. Discussions between refugee leaders and UNHCR officials appear deadlocked, but, in the meantime, the refugees in Yida are determined to carry on with their lives.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

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