News / Africa

Refugees in South Sudan Face Food, Health Crisis

Internally displaced people carry water from outside as they walk toward the entrance of a United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan base in Malakal, Feb. 6, 2014.
Internally displaced people carry water from outside as they walk toward the entrance of a United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan base in Malakal, Feb. 6, 2014.
Lisa Schlein
The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) is warning that tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees in neighboring South Sudan are facing a severe food shortage.  

The agency is helping to care for 130,000 refugees from Sudan’s embattled Blue Nile State.  They are living across the border in South Sudan, in camps in Maban County of Upper Nile state.  

Maban County is not directly affected by the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.  But UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards says insecurity and border restrictions along supply corridors have prevented the delivery of relief items since the beginning of the year.

He says in a VOA interview that it is urgent to get food into the refugee camps before the onset of the rains, which will render roads impassible.

“It has been impossible to get food pre-positioned there because of the insecurity we have seen.  And this now is starting to show itself in some very worrisome consequences.  Real shortages of food, growing rates of global and severe acute malnutrition.  We are particularly worried about the impact this may have on people who, as they move - because if you move across from there toward Ethiopia, for example, the conditions are difficult, the route is difficult.  It is likely that people arriving in Ethiopia, should they come there, will be in much worse state still," said Edwards.

Edwards says about one-third of the refugee population is at greatest risk.  It includes children under five, pregnant and lactating women, elderly, the disabled and those who are chronically ill.  

He notes the rains normally start in April, and warns that waterborne diseases, malaria and respiratory tract infections will increase.

“In recent weeks, we have seen several cases of kwashiorkor among very young children in the refugee camps… Kwashiorkor is a form of severe malnutrition to do with protein deficiencies… Food shortages could lead to conflict between refugees and host communities foraging for wild fruits and vegetables.  Already, we have seen tension over grazing lands, over access to open water sources," he said.

The World Food Program has been providing normal food rations for the refugee camps.  But, the agency says the crisis in South Sudan is making it extremely difficult to access this region and re-supply the camps.

Because normal supply routes are disrupted, WFP says it will be using a combination of airlifts and airdrops to replenish the stocks in Maban County.

An estimated 739,000 people in South Sudan have become internally displaced since fighting erupted in mid-December.  The World Food Program so far has provided food to more than 420,000 conflict-affected people.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs