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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora