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

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs