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Dangerous food shortage in South Sudan camps

Refugees from Blue Nile state flee across the border with all they need for a long exile (K.G. Ebziabher/UNHCR)
Refugees from Blue Nile state flee across the border with all they need for a long exile (K.G. Ebziabher/UNHCR)

Acute malnutrition has reportedly caused the death of a number of children and elderly people from Blue Nile, in a refugee camp in South Sudan during the past week. UNHCR has relocated the first Sudanese refugees from Yida camp.

Other children are suffering from the shortage of food and nutritients, a camp coordinator in Yusuf Batil told Radio Dabanga.

“There is a severe shortage of food and medicines in the camp. Hopefully humanitarian organisations will speed up the delivery of aid and medicines,” the coordinator said.

Approximately 40,000 refugees, mainly from Bau in Blue Nile, have taken shelter in Yusuf Batil, which is 51 kilometres away from the border with Sudan.

Medair, an international NGO of humanitarian aid active in the camp, denied in a statement to Radio Dabanga that is has received reports about child mortality caused by malnutrition.

“We have not had any children die in our health facilities or from within our malnutrition programmes in recent weeks,” the organisation replied. Medair's nutrition programme in Yusuf Batil has 461 children under five years enrolled and conducts other programmes to prevent acute malnutrition among children.


The rainy season is causing trouble, however, for organisations that transport food and relief items to the refugee camps along the border with Sudan.

There is a shortage of transporation means in Yida camp in Unity state, according to a camp coordinator. The United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) in South Sudan has embarked on relocating the first Sudanese refugees from Yida to the camps Ajuong Thok and Pamir (in Upper Nile state).

Nur Saleh, a coordinator in Yida, told Radio Dabanga that they held a meeting with the UN director in the country on Wednesday. He promised to provide the basic needs of education and health services in the camps where the refugees, mainly from the Nuba Mountains, are being relocated to.

Refugees in Yida, amounting to about 70,000 people, have refused to leave over security concerns in the two new camps. But UNHCR and the South Sudanese government have said that Yida has never been officially recognised as refugee camp and continues to scale-down aid services, to eventually shut down the camp.


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