News / Africa

South Sudan's Aid Workers Concerned About Flood of Sudanese Refugees

South Sudan's Aid Workers Concerned About Flood of Sudanese Refugeesi
|| 0:00:00
X
Hannah McNeish
September 12, 2012 5:18 PM
South Sudan’s Upper Nile state is now home to more than 100,000 refugees from Sudan’s Blue Nile state, where conflict has raged between government forces and insurgents for more than a year. Hannah McNeish reports for VOA from Yusuf Batil camp that the United Nations says that widespread problems of malnutrition and disease are slowly improving, but it fears that another influx could quickly undo gains at remote and waterlogged refugee camps.
Hannah McNeish
— South Sudan’s Upper Nile state is now home to more than 100,000 refugees from Sudan’s Blue Nile state, where conflict has raged between government forces and insurgents for more than a year. The United Nations says that widespread problems of malnutrition and disease are slowly improving. But it fears that another influx, when heavy rains abate, could quickly undo gains as charities struggle to maintain services in remote and waterlogged refugee camps.

At a watering point in Yusuf Batil camp in South Sudan, some of the 35,000 residents make the daily trek to fill jerry cans for washing, cooking and cleaning.

To get about half the 20-liter ration recommended daily, they must trek through masses of sticky, sometimes ankle-deep mud.

Challenges abound as agencies ramp up

While fewer people are now suffering from malnutrition, many are still getting sick from diarrheal diseases and even hepatitis E - because of the human waste mixed into the unavoidable sludge.

A girl walks through mud to get water at the Yusuf Batil refugee camp in Upper Nile, South Sudan, July 4, 2012.A girl walks through mud to get water at the Yusuf Batil refugee camp in Upper Nile, South Sudan, July 4, 2012.
x
A girl walks through mud to get water at the Yusuf Batil refugee camp in Upper Nile, South Sudan, July 4, 2012.
A girl walks through mud to get water at the Yusuf Batil refugee camp in Upper Nile, South Sudan, July 4, 2012.
​George Okoth-Obbo, head of the Africa division for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR], said the situation here is becoming more stable. But he also said relief agencies must continue to scale up operations in expectation of another influx of refugees.

“And as we know all that, it is very possible that once the rains stop, more people will be coming into the country and potentially into this camp," said Okoth-Obbo. "So it’s an imperative of not only stabilizing the situation as we have now, but indeed while doing that to be preparing for more as well.”

Food, security among chief concerns

The local leaders among the refugees say many families left older or weaker members behind, because they could not make the journey. Those family members, along with others trapped by conflict or rains, are expected to try to cross into South Sudan soon.

Refugee leader Sheikh Abdel-Aziz Fadul wants his people to stay close to the aid agencies - not just for services, but also for security.

“We are used to hearing gunshots in some of the corners of the camp over there, there, there and here, and we don’t know why,” he said.

At the monthly food distribution site, refugees pay a precious part of their grain ration to get their food transported by camel, since the rain makes the trek back to their tents too difficult.

Donors, international assistance sought

UNHCR says malnutrition has dropped from around 40 percent to 26 percent, with severe cases now affecting one in 10 people, especially children.

Stanlake Samkange, the East and Central Africa Director for the U.N's World Food Program [WFP], said the situation improved mainly due airdrops of food - a costly last resort - but could quickly worse again if more refugees arrive, and unless more funding is found.

“My biggest concern is that if this number increases significantly, then it will add pressure on our efforts, the efforts of UNHCR and other partners, and we will need the support and assistance of donors and the international community to do that,” said Samkange.

As the sun sets on the food-distribution site, the UNHCR remains concerned that finding $20 million now could mean “a matter of life or death” for some of these refugees, not to mention those still stuck in war-ravaged Blue Nile as food becomes even more scarce.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid