News / Africa

S. Sudan Refugee Camp Braces for New Arrivals

Michael Onyiego
Conditions at the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan have improved - after a wave of new arrivals, disease and death.  But as the rainy season ends, the camp is bracing for another wave of challenges that could overwhelm the humanitarian community.

Things are calmer now at the main hospital in South Sudan's Yida refugee camp.  The hospital is run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF).  Many beds in this makeshift tent hospital are still full, but according to MSF, the situation is finally manageable.
 
From mid-June through mid-July, a wave of disease hit the camps, sending mortality rates soaring.  This was coupled with a rush of new refugees, as many as 1,000 per day.  
 
Since then, the situation has improved.  At one of three Outreach Therapeutic Program centers, refugees come in for nutrition monitoring and evaluation.  Mothers receive special food rich in vitamins and nutrients to keep their children healthy.  The lines are still long, but MSF says the refugees are generally less malnourished.
 
"Now there is need," said Marie, a nurse with MSF in charge of this clinic.  "It's not so catastrophic like it was in July.  But it's very— it can change quickly.  If malaria comes, if cholera comes or if more people come, very quickly, it can be like in July."

The refugees at Yida come from the heart of Sudan's South Kordofan State.  Fighting broke out in June of last year between the government and the rebel SPLA-North, which was part of South Sudan's own rebel SPLA during the Sudanese civil war.
 
The camp now has more than 65,000 refugees who fled intense fighting and aerial bombardments by Sudanese warplanes.
 
New arrivals say fresh fighting will soon drive many more over the border into South Sudan.  Yusif al-Farik, 40, arrived with his daughter just days ago.  He says they left their home when Sudanese troops started shelling the area.

"They are just shooting randomly," said al-Farik.  "Maybe they are targeting an SPLA-North position.  But the shell doesn't hit that area, it hits the houses of the people there and wounds them."
 
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) is now registering fewer than 200 new arrivals per day.  Officials say the rainy season cut off the roads from South Kordofan, preventing more from coming.
 
Those same rains have made it impossible to get food into the camps by road.  For the past few weeks, the World Food Program has been forced to deliver food by air.  The planes make six runs every day, dropping around 64 metric tons a day from the sky.
 
The drops have proved a critical lifeline for the refugees, and WFP says they should last until the end of the year.
 
But officials say the drops may need to be extended if more refugees arrive after the rainy season.  UNHCR says as many as 15,000 could come by the end of December.  If that happens, resources will be spread dangerously thin, and the Yida camp could face another crisis.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs