July 5, 2012 - Los Angeles, Calif. –A rapidly rising South Sudanese refugee population is facing a nutrition and disease crisis, as conflict and hunger in neighboring Blue Nile State of Sudan continue to drive people across the border.
Malnutrition levels are alarmingly high among refugees, the majority of them women and children. Leading causes of death among the refugee population continue to be diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, and eye infections. Six cases of malaria have also been confirmed, with more anticipated due to a limited availability of insecticide-treated bed nets during the rainy season.
Yusuf Batil camp in Upper Nile State’s Maban County has grown from 6,000 people to over 34,000 people in recent days following the relocation of refugees from the KM 18 transit site. In under two weeks, International Medical Corps has provided more than 1,900 health consultations at a health post in Yusuf Batil.
International Medical Corps has been providing health and nutrition services to new arrivals, including screening more than 2,400 children under five years of age for acute malnutrition. Of those screened, 2.6 percent of children under five suffer from severe acute malnutrition and 12.7 percent from moderate acute malnutrition, suggesting a global acute malnutrition rate of 15.3 percent–above the emergency threshold of 15 percent. International Medical Corps, in collaboration with Samaritan’s Purse, has begun providing supplementary feeding for children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition and for pregnant and lactating women. Since July 2, International Medical Corps has also provided water and oral rehydration solution to over 3,200 new arrivals in Yusuf Batil.
Due to incessant rains in Maban County, nearby Jamam refugee camp has flooded, prompting the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) to establish two new camps, Batil 2 and 3 for the more than 32,000 refugees to be transferred from Jamam. UNHCR has asked International Medical Corps to focus on health and nutrition in Batil 2 and 3, which will start receiving refugees in two weeks. International Medical Corps will be the only health agency at these sites, which will include 2 health clinics, 5 oral rehydration points, an outpatient therapeutic program and supplementary feeding program, a 25-bed cholera treatment unit, 150 latrines, and a community health promoter program.
In the coming days, International Medical Corps’ emergency response team will continue to treat refugees at the Yusuf Batil health post and prepare to respond to the needs of the incoming refugees from Jamam. To mitigate the spread of communicable diseases, which can be exacerbated by over-congestion in the camps and Maban County’s severe rainy season, International Medical Corps has planned hygiene promotion and cholera preparedness activities. International Medical Corps also intends to work with partners to support survivors of gender-based violence.
In recent months, International Medical Corps has scaled up its operations to respond to the needs of refugee and returnee populations throughout South Sudan. In Pochalla County in Jonglei State, International Medical Corps is the only international NGO providing health services in Alari refugee camp, where 4,000 refugees who fled violence in Ethiopia are currently residing. International Medical Corps is also supporting 21 health facilities and responding to casualties in Jonglei, where inter-communal fighting in has been ongoing since early 2011. Operational in South Sudan since 1994, International Medical Corps currently works in Upper Nile, Central Equatoria, and Western Equatoria State.
Since its inception nearly 30 years ago, International Medical Corps' mission has been consistent: relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster and disease, by delivering vital health care services that focus on training. This approach of helping people help themselves is critical to returning devastated populations to self-reliance. For more information visit: www.InternationalMedicalCorps.org. Also see us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.