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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid