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MSF: 'Alarming' Number of Deaths at South Sudan Camp

  • VOA News

FILE - Aid workers have expressed alarm at poor conditions in South Sudan refugee camps. A woman and baby shelter in a makeshift tent at the Kalma camp in this photo released by United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur, Sudan, March 9, 2014.
An aid group is warning of "catastrophic" conditions at a U.N. base in South Sudan where 45,000 people have taken refuge from rampant violence.

Doctors Without Borders tells VOA that more than 100 children under age five have died at the base in Bentiu since the last week in April.

The group's head of mission in South Sudan, Raphael Gorgeu, says an average of three children per day died last week, when the situation "drastically deteriorated" because of new arrivals and heavy rains.

The aid group says most of the deaths are due to acute diarrhea, pneumonia or malnutrition -- all linked to harsh living conditions, especially a lack of clean water.

It says flooding and violence have made it difficult for water trucks to reach the area, forcing people to drink from puddles contaminated with human waste.

Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have been sheltering at U.N. bases since deadly violence between pro- and anti-government forces broke out in mid-December.

In one incident, gunmen killed more than 200 people at a Bentiu mosque on April 15. The U.N. Mission in South Sudan blamed the rebels for the massacre -- an allegation that rebel spokesmen denied.

The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan Toby Lanzer recently warned that 50,000 South Sudanese children could die this year unless they receive assistance.

Doctors Without Borders says it is expanding its hospital at the Bentiu camp and sending more medical staff in an effort to improve the situation.