News / Africa

UNHCR: S. Sudan Refugee Situation Critical

A woman waits in queue to collect water at Yusuf Batil refugee camp, Upper Nile, South Sudan, July 4, 2012.
A woman waits in queue to collect water at Yusuf Batil refugee camp, Upper Nile, South Sudan, July 4, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
GENEVA -- On July 9, 2011, South Sudan gained independence amid hope and optimism for the future. Nearly a year later, the country is despairing of poverty, ongoing conflict with its northern neighbor and a burgeoning refugee population.

Refugees began fleeing south last year when fight between Sudan's armed forces and rebels in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states flared up.

Now the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says the outlook for those in South Sudanese refugee camps, already living in disease-prone conditions, is bleak, and that, for thousands headed south from Sudan’s Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states, the situation the may only get worse.

The agency says more than 200,000 Sudanese have fled over the last year -- many to Ethiopia but the vast majority to South Sudan, where humanitarian efforts are reaching a breaking point.

According to spokesman Adrian Edwards, who describes South Sudan as perhaps the most difficult humanitarian situation facing UNHCR, the outlook for refugees in the country and those on the way remains bleak.

The ongoing conflict, he says, sometimes reaches an intensity that temporarily halts the exodus, forcing large numbers of refugees near the border to wait for a lull in fighting before crossing into South Sudan.

“If you get into South Sudan, what you are confronted with is the bleakest of territory in many cases," he said. "In Upper Nile State, its large, flat area is prone to flooding, and some of the temporary settlements that refugees have themselves put up are literally ankle-deep in water.

"In that kind of environment where you cannot move people around easily because roads are also flooded, there are serious problems," he said, citing not only health problems but what he called the "sheer misery of the situation for many people there."

UNHCR also says refugees have constructed a number of makeshift settlements in remote areas of Upper Nile and Unity states that lack even the most basic infrastructure, where inhabitants face severe water shortages despite the rainy season.

Aid agencies are drilling boreholes to increase the supply, but the UNHCR says many refugees still receive only one-third or less of the minimum daily clean water they need, exacerbating health risks. The humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders has expressed particular concern about the situation in Upper Nile's Jamam refugee camp, home to one-quarter of the roughly 120,000 refugees who have fled Sudan’s Blue Nile State since late last year.

At Jamam, UNHCR says increasing illness among a seriously weakened refugee population has forced mortality rates to alarming levels. Over the last two weeks alone, the group reports, doctors have treated at least 2,500 people for malaria, malnutrition, and diarrheal and respiratory diseases.

Edwards, who calls the risk of cholera and other water-borne diseases enormous, says a majority of those exposed to the conditions are less than 18 years of age.

“We are worried about the mortality rates among children in particular," he said. "Children are arriving severely malnourished, [and] ... as many as 65 [or] 66 percent of the refugees arriving in some of these camps are ... children in our view -- many of the younger children in particular need immediate medical help. They are in serious condition.”

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid