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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
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 Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
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 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.

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