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16 Die from Disease at Refugee Camp in South Sudan


Humanitarian workers and UN officials are worried about the health of Sudanese refugees in camps in South Sudan. (I. Lagunina)
The international humanitarian agency Oxfam is warning that living conditions of refugees in a camp in Upper Nile state are becoming increasingly desperate, and more people will probably die if help does not arrive soon.

More than 100,000 refugees have fled fighting between Sudanese armed forces and rebels in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states.

At least 16 refugees have died in the past two weeks from an outbreak of Hepatitis E, according to the U.N.

Pauline Ballaman, Oxfam’s South Sudan director, said the best way to curb the spread of the water-borne disease is to relocate thousands of Sudanese refugees to a safer place.

“The government of South Sudan and UNHCR, who are the lead agencies, would encourage them to look at all other possibilities because this is not going to be a sustainable job or solution,” Ballaman said.

South Sudan and the UN refugee agency considered relocating the refugees to areas along the Nile River, according to Ballaman, but she said no decision has been made so far.

Ballaman said more people are showing symptoms of Hepatitis E. She added, “there are a lot more people affected and, of course, it is far more serious for the nursing and pregnant mothers and young children, and malnutrition kicks in as well,”

According to Ballaman, no season is favorable to housing more than 100,000 refugees.

Widespread flooding during South Sudan’s rainy season is the problem right now, but when the dry season arrives the problem will be not enough water.