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

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

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs