The health situation in the Yusif Batil camp in South Sudan is critical as simple diarrhea has become one of the main causes of death. As camp manager the Danish Refugee Council is distributing emergency aid such as soap, blankets and mosquito nets in order to help get mortality rates below emergency levels.
Approximately 110,000 refugees have fled from Blue Nile State and arrived in Upper Nile State in South Sudan since January 2012. The massive influx into one of the most remotely located areas of South Sudan has put both emergency response as well as local resources under much pressure, and there are critical gaps to be covered.
The Danish Refugee Council, DRC is managing the Yusif Batil camp where 35,000 refugees are currently living. These refugees are the most recently arrived and by far the most vulnerable, with much higher numbers of elderly, young children,sick and disabled persons.
“The refugees in Yusif Batil camp are physically exhausted, ill and malnourished after several months of flight by foot to reach South Sudan,” says Kate Norton, Country Director for DRC South Sudan, explaining the alarming mortality rates in the camp:
“Simple diarrheas are among the main causes of death but the risk of cholera outbreaks, dysentery, hepatitis and other serious diseases linked to poor hygiene are also very high. Futhermore malaria and water borne diseases contribute during the rainy season as it is especially cold at night at the moment.”
The Danish Refugee Council is working closely with health actors to support the coordination of vital medical services, furthermore DRC is doing targeted distribution of non-food items; blankets and mosquito nets to help families stay warm and to prevent malaria; soap, water containers and buckets to help improve hygiene and access to clean drinking water and grinding mills to support the refugees in grinding the food rations they receive from World Food Programme.
“The high mortality rates are strongly correlated with poor hygiene and inadequate nutrition. Our team in the camp has discovered that some refugees sell food items in order to buy soap or to get their food rations grinded. As a result the food rations are being dramatically reduced and the most vulnerable refugees are therefore extremely vulnerable to disease,” says Kate Norton.
The Danish Refugee Council has operated in Sudan since 2004. When South Sudan gained independence in 2011, the Danish Refugee Council was already present in the country, the organization is now active in three states in South Sudan - Upper Nile State, Northern Bahr El Ghazal and Warrap states.