Geneva, Switzerland (BBN)- The United Nations refugee agency today voiced alarm about the health situation of more than 100,000 refugees spread out across two states in South Sudan.
“With the current rain and cold, we are seeing refugees suffering from respiratory tract infections, diarrhoea and malaria,” a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Adrian Edwards, told reporters in Geneva on Friday.
According to the agency, there are 170,000 refugees living in camps and settlements across South Sudan’s Unity and Upper Nile states. They have arrived from Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states after fleeing conflict and food shortages.
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,” said Mr. Edwards. “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, 15 per cent of children under five – nearly 1,600 children – are severely malnourished. They are now being treated under a special program to restore them to health.
Earlier this month, UNHCR and its partners launched an extensive health and hygiene outreach program, with a special emphasis on good basic hygiene.
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 number of almost 170,000.
BBN/SSR/SI-25Aug12-12:30 pm (BST)