With 170,000 Sudanese refugees now in camps and settlements across South Sudan’s Unity and Upper Nile states, the health situation among this population has become a matter of alarm to us. With the current rain and cold, we are seeing refugees suffering from respiratory tract infections, diarrhoea and malaria.
In Upper Nile, nearly half the refugees are under the age of 11. This is an unusually large proportion in refugee emergencies, and this age group is suffering the most. Their mothers - or other caregivers - are often also sick and weak, and cannot look after them properly.
In Yusuf Batil, a camp hosting 34,000 Sudanese from Blue Nile State, fifteen percent of children under five (or nearly 1,600 children) are severely malnourished. They are now being treated under a special program to restore them to health.
UNHCR and its partners have this month launched an extensive health and hygiene outreach programme. We are putting particular emphasis on good basic hygiene. We are trying to impress upon refugees the importance of fundamentals like hand-washing, collecting water in clean buckets and jerry-cans and not defecating in the open. We are continuing to build latrines in all five camps in an attempt to keep pace with new arrivals. All agencies have struggled to maintain adequate hygiene and sanitation, with the number of refugees having increased dramatically from 99,000 in April to the current almost 170,000.
Note for broadcast and other media:
UNHCR’s South Sudan briefing today included a discussion between journalists and UNHCR health and operations experts (Paul Spiegel, UNHCR medical expert, and Oscar Mundia, Operations. Manager, East and Horn of Africa, Chad & Sudan).
Audio of the entire briefing, including this exchange (at approximately 45 minutes in) will be posted online at http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpPages)/0611E2CDD9B746FA80256EE700377B1F?OpenDocument.
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