National
Misery stalks South Sudan refugees in camps
Publish Date: Jul 13, 2014
Misery stalks South Sudan refugees in camps
Internally displaced South Sudanese family watching on a solar-powered television the proceedings of the youngest nations third Independence Day celebrations, from an IDP camp a in Malakal, on the day of the youngest nations third Independence Day. AFP PHOTO
  • mail
  • img
newvision

GAMBELA - Nyayoul Gach was first driven from her home in South Sudan because of violence, but escaped into Ethiopia because of hunger, unable to feed her five children who were rapidly wasting away.

Now in the caked mud settlements of western Ethiopia, she faces further misery: hunger and disease stalk the crowded camps, and she wonders whether her life is better than the one she fled in war-ravaged South Sudan.

"I'm really worried about my family because I'm here wondering what to do for survival," she said, clutching her wailing baby who has malaria.

"I would like to go to South Sudan but the situation is not good, but if the situation is not good here either, then I might as well go back," she said grimly.

The civil war, which started as a political feud between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar, has already displaced more than 1.5 million people like Gach, and the numbers are expected to grow as famine sets in.

Aid agencies say $1 billion (735 million euros) is needed to feed and care for the mushrooming refugee population, already underserved in the rapidly growing camps.

Bayang Lual said he came to Ethiopia in search of food, like many of the 166,000 other refugees who have poured into the country since fighting erupted in December.

"When the war broke out, every house, every home was burned down, so all the food was destroyed. We didn't have anything to eat so that's why we ran," said the emaciated father of three, recounting that his seven-year-old son was killed in the fighting.

"I came here to seek help because we had no food at home," he added, speaking at the busy registration centre at the South Sudan border.

Lual is now searching for his wife and surviving children who were separated from him as they fled from Upper Nile, the oil-rich northern state and one of the areas hardest hit by the war.

Luxury hotels

Emergency teams in Ethiopia are scrambling to care for people like Lual as up to 1,000 refugees stream into the country daily amid persistent funding shortfalls. A new camp that opened in May is already full, and the UN refugee agency said additional settlements are desperately needed.

Malnourishment and malaria prey on the vulnerable, with severe malnutrition at five percent and malaria rapidly increasing as the rainy season sets in.

"I've seen the situation in some other emergencies, but this is one of the worst," said Doctors Without Borders (MSF) emergency coordinator Foura Sassou Madi.

Nyakach Duoth worries about her five children as conditions deteriorate in the camp. She has lost weight since fleeing South Sudan three months ago, and said her children suffer from chest infections.

"Look at me, I am too thin. I was not like this before. But I have no food here," she said, her bony chest visible under a tattered yellow dress.

The two sacks of grain she receives monthly allow her family to eat what she said was "just the minimum", but she does not dare return to her home in Upper Nile where she fears conditions are worse.

There is little hope that the refugees will go back soon, with scarce food available since most farmers have missed this year's harvest because of the war.

Peace talks between warring parties have stalled indefinitely, with both sides refusing to attend the latest round of negotiations in luxury hotels in Addis Ababa that have made no progress since January and have already cost $17 million (12 million euros).

Both Kiir and Machar marked three years of independence for their young nation last week, urging one another back to the negotiating table to halt the deepening crisis.

But for many in the camps, there is slim hope for the future.

"I don't like to see my people here. Life is very bad here, but since the situation doesn't allow me to leave, I have to stay here, but we are not happy," Duoth said.

RELATED ARTICLES

South Sudan army claims capture of rebel base

South Sudan rebel leader says 'committed to peace'

Ugandan troops to stay in South Sudan

50,000 children facing death in war-torn South Sudan: UN

 

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
University cautioned over Mbabazi invite
Ambiance Discotheque in Masaka municipality has stopped Mutesa 1 Royal University from inviting the former prime minister as chief guest at their Saturday beauty contest....
Ex-PM Mbabazi entitled to sh2.1m pension
Former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi once said he was not finished and indeed he is not, especially in the wallet....
Mother declines cash to marry off P.6 daughter
A 37-year-old woman from eastern Uganda is the talk of the town after she rejected sh602,000 from a suitor who wanted to marry her daughter....
14 killed in DR Congo machete attack
THE incursion by the Ugandan rebel group ADF took place overnight in the town of Kampi ya Chui....
Businessman sues UNRA over Entebbe Expressway
A businessman has dragged UNRA to court seeking sh5b in damages for loss of business and the inconvenience over the construction of the Entebbe Expressway....
US Commander of Africa Forces visits
President Yoweri Museveni has said that the main challenge in Somalia today was clan-related issues. The President made the remarks at State House Entebbe in a meeting with the United States of America Commander of Africa Forces, General David Rodriguez....
Should the absence of bride price prevent couples from wedding?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter