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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population 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.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid