News / Africa

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

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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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 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.

VOA Blogs

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