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Refugee agency warns of looming health crisis in Yida

Bentiu, June 27, 2012 (SSNA) -- Sanitary and hygiene conditions in Yida have taken a radical turn for the worse, owing to the rapid growth of the population in the refugee settlement.

UNHCR’s head of office in Bentiu, Marie-Helene Verney said the surge was putting huge pressure on limited resources in water and sanitation.

“The refugee population in Yida has more than doubled since the end of April this year, when there were 27,500. Currently we have 58,375 refugees in the settlement.”

Verney pointed out that the main challenge being faced is to scale up the numbers of latrines and boreholes to match the pace of arrival of refugees. Stating that diarrhea has become the main cause of morbidity among refugees, Verney affirmed that there is adequate groundwater in Yida.

“Agencies are working hard to increase facilities and services in order to keep up with demand. At the same time, health partners are reporting increasing cases of diarrhea among refugees, raising grave concerns about the risk of disease outbreak.”

Verney attributed problems in addressing the situation to the lack of basic infrastructure and local technical capacity in the region. She cited difficulties in transporting drilling equipment to Yida in rainy season conditions. The Pariang-Yida road is closed for all traffic and only passable after three dry days. The Bentiu-Yida road is passable only for light vehicles. As a result, delivery of humanitarian aid by road has been rendered virtually impossible.

New partners with expertise in water, sanitation and hygiene are boosting the efforts of present actors. Operational responses include the drilling of six new boreholes to complement the existing six as well as construction of an additional 900 community latrines. Large scale health and hygiene promotion campaigns and education on vector control and transmission will be conducted to promote behavioral change.

Despite enduring concerns about refugee security due to Yida’s proximity to a disputed border zone, UNHCR and partners continue to provide life-saving assistance and basic services in order to maintain conditions of dignity in the settlement.

South Sudan is currently hosting close to 170,000 Sudanese refugees in Upper Nile and Unity states. UNHCR is appealing for $186 million for the associated emergency response operations.

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For further information, please contact:
Teresa Ongaro, mobile: +211 927 770 040; email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Mark Kirya, mobile: +211 977 493 000; email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Search for water yields fruit in Yusuf Batil as refugee relocation continues: UNHCR

Juba, June 22, 2012 (SSNA) -- The UN refugee agency has announced positive
results in the search for water which has been on-going in the refugee settlements.

The announcement came as Chris Nikoi, acting Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan and Country Director of the World Food Programme was visiting Maban county to mark World Refuge Day.

UNHCR Representative in South Sudan, Mireille Girard said “Two additional boreholes have recently been tested and found to have high yield while another has showed promise during the development phase.” Yusuf Batil is the newest of three refugee sites in Maban County where some 18,000 refugees have recently been relocated from transit points closer to the border.

“We are drilling more boreholes. Moreover, our water specialist has identified a backup system to provide from a nearby shallow water source water using a jet drilling technique.” Girard added that this would provide adequate water to receive the remaining 14,000 refugees still at Kilo 18 transit site. She noted that the relocation operation should be completed within a week, if the weather permits.

The UNHCR Representative cautioned that many challenges still remain. She cited the poor health status of the new arrivals, highlighting risks such as the high incidence of diarrhea and communicable diseases as well as the yet insufficient water, sanitation and health outreach services in several locations. In particular, she cited Jammam settlement from where 12,000 refugees will be assisted to relocate to another site in order to ease pressure on the limited water supply.

Girard added that all efforts are being deployed to ensure assistance reaches the refugees as fast as possible. Twelve airlifts carrying 180 tons of relief items and tents for the refugees have already been completed and another 16 are due in the coming days.

The acting Humanitarian Coordinator welcomed these developments. He said, “The discovery of additional water is a great relief given that refugees are forced to endure long journeys on foot.” He saluted the refugees’ resilience noting that the majority had traveled for days, even weeks, without proper food and had drunk untreated water along the way.

Commending the efforts of humanitarian actors, Nikoi said, “They have operated tirelessly in very challenging circumstances, as wave after wave of refugees continue to cross the border. The sheer numbers of new arrivals and the geography of the refugee hosting zones have combined to make this a highly complex emergency response operation.”

Thanking the acting Humanitarian Coordinator for his visit, UNHCR’s head of operations in Maban county, Fred Cussigh said, “For weeks, the humanitarian community drilled four rigs simultaneously in Jammam and Yusuf Batil to find water for the refugees without much success. This is now a step in the right direction.” He added that while the onset of the rainy season will temporarily provide additional water, the effort to address the chronic water problem in refugee hosting areas of Maban county will continue.

Close to 170,000 refugees fleeing Sudan’s Blue State and South Kordofan State have been arriving in South Sudan since July 2011 after fighting broke out in the two Sudanese provinces. In Upper Nile there was a surge of 35,000 new arrivals from Blue Nile state three weeks ago, while Unity state has seen an average of 1,000 refugees enter the country from Southern Kordofan every day.

Following the sharp surge in arrivals, UNHCR has increased its planning figures for Sudanese refugees in South Sudan from 135,000 to 235,000 by the year’s end. UNHCR has also revised its funding requirements for the emergency response operation from USD 111 million to USD 186 million.

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For further information, please contact:

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Juba: Mark Kirya, mobile: +211 977 493 000; email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

South Sudanese in the US Urge UN to Hold Sudan Accountable in a Peaceful Rally

TO: UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon
CC:  UNSC, EU, AU, IGADD, US Department of State, White House, US Congress.
 
June 14, 2012
New York City, New York

New York, June 18, 2012 (SSNA) -- We the South Sudanese community and friends in the US, in conjunction with the South Sudan Volunteer Initiative USA branch (SSVI - USA), gather here today because we are deeply concerned about the ongoing crisis between South Sudan and [North] Sudan. Since the Panthou (Heglig) crisis, the government of Sudan has stepped up its aerial campaign against civilians’ population as illustrated by the Bentiu bombing on April 12, 2012 and many others. These belligerent actions were met with very little outcry, a sharp contrast from the one towards South Sudan during the Panthou crisis, from the international community. We are urging the international community, particularly the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Security Council and the African Union (AU), to show fairness and immediately hold Sudan accountable not only for its air campaign against innocent civilians but for its reluctance to take seriously the UNSC resolution 2046, and the African Union’s peace and security roadmap in order to negotiate in good faith. We want to forewarn the concerned parties that this reluctance will soon result in further bombardment and more civilians sufferings. We must act now!

While the Sudan government’s activities, particularly its continuous attacks on South Sudan since its independence in July last year, and its defiance of the international community’s plea to respect human rights, implement the remaining provisions of the CPA, withdraw the remaining 150 troops from Abyei, and stop aerial bombardment of innocent civilians deep inside South Sudan’s territory, are not startling to us – for we are used to them (that is the reason we are here), we find it shocking to see the level in which it has been able to easily deceive the international community on almost every issue on the table. In recent past, the fraudulent account of Panthou (Heglig), gained an unprecedented acceptance among some international circles, essentially raising major concerns about the global community’s attention span. The Sudan government has never been honest in its dealing with anyone, let alone the international community, and for the international community to take its words for anything, much less at face value, is synonymous to allowing a child molester keeps your children under the pretext that he has recovered. We are reminding the international community about this reality because it is the same pretense that causes the current talks to collapse in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, because Sudan wants to administer all the disputed areas, essentially putting into question their comprehension of the meaning of the word ‘disputed.’ In Sudan speaks, its position, actions and attitude at the negotiating table in Addis, reinforce what we have been saying all along; that is it wants to and will control the disputed areas whether the international community likes it or not, thus by force.

We also want to note that the Sudan government’s conviction of demarcating the borders by force, rather than peacefully, is not hard to believe since it has successfully moved the border southward, resulting in the annexation of Panthou (Heglig) – which, as per the 1/1/1956 border, is part of South Sudan’s Unity state, and other areas where oil was discovered. This redrawing of the map in South Sudan by the regime in Khartoum as a result of oil discovery is clearly documented, and thus the reason of the continuous attack on South Sudan, an apparent campaign to annex South Sudan’s oil producing state of Unity, to the North.

Many international experts and South Sudanese alike expected this behavior from the Sudan because its refusal to either sign peace pacts or dishonor the ones it signed has been consistent over a long period of time. Eric Reeves, A renowned Sudanese expert from Smith College, put it eloquently when he said “Khartoum has consistently refused to negotiate these areas of the border either within the Technical Boundary Committee (TBC) or through high-level political engagement.  Over more than seven years, it has repeatedly refused to convene or participate in good faith in the TBC, to accept the findings of the Abyei Boundaries Commission (ABC) stipulated by the Abyei Protocol of the CPA, or to accept the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (July 2009)”.

Finally, we want to end this message by providing recommendations whose consideration will be the key to redressing the current impasse that Sudan has created. We realized that current talks will not get anywhere because Sudan wants to have its way or no way. To this end;

  • All hostilities, often instigated by the Sudan, must be cease
  • All disputed areas must be referred to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)
  • The PCA ruling must be binding and it should be enforced by the international community by whatever means necessary
  • SAF withdrawal from Abyei must be completed with no exception. Leaving 150 Sudanese troops there is not a complete withdrawal
  • There must be unimpeded humanitarian access to all civilians displaced by the Sudan bombardment
  • The arrest warrant of the Sudanese President on crimes against humanity must be carried out
  • All prisoner of war (POW) held by Sudan must be released
  • There must be no-fly zone to deter further civilian bombardment and displacement
  • All South Sudanese students and citizens being held illegally must be released
  • Current sanctions on Sudan should be tightened and more should be issued
Signed:
South Sudan Volunteer Initiative (SSVI – USA), South Sudan Communities in the US.

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