Press Release: Surge in refugees from South Kordofan fleeing into South Sudan
YIDA, South Sudan 13 Apr 2012 - A new wave of refugees fleeing South Kordofan in the Republic of Sudan is crossing the border into South Sudan as violence in the embattled region escalates and a humanitarian crisis worsens.
Many refugees are heading to Yida camp in South Sudan, just 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of the border, where aid workers with the International Rescue Committee estimate as many as 400 are arriving every day, up from an average of 50 a day a week earlier.
“It started last Sunday (April 8) with a wave of refugees reaching the camp in crowded trucks and on foot,” says Elizabeth Pender, an IRC women’s protection expert in Yida. "Refugees tell us that many more desperate people are braving the dangerous trek across the border. We’re quickly preparing for thousands more arrivals."
Many of the newly arrived are suffering from dehydration and exhaustion after walking for days in extreme heat with little food and water. "The number of outpatients at the camp clinic has doubled this week to 150 a day," says Pender.
The sudden influx of refugees has worsened the humanitarian situation in the camp, where resources were already stretched to aid the more than 20,000 refugees already there.
"The new arrivals need everything: water, food, shelter and health services, but the resources in the camp are already overstretched," explains Pender. "With many struggling to find enough reeds and wood to build shelters, plastic sheets and tents are urgently needed before the rainy season starts in the next few weeks. The water supply here also has its limits.”
Pender is also concerned about vulnerable women and girls among the new arrivals.
"With every new influx of refugees, we hear from women who were raped while fleeing the crisis,” says Pender. “They come to us for help and are in need of immediate medical assistance."
A new IRC Women and Girls Wellness Center recently opened at the camp to provide a range of reproductive health care services and assistance for women and girls who have been sexually assaulted while fleeing to South Sudan and after their arrival.
Services include deliveries, pre- and post-natal care, family planning, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, specialized care for survivors of rape and abuse, counseling, and health education.
Brutal fighting between Sudan’s military and ethnic-Nuban rebels erupted 10 months ago in South Kordofan, displacing hundreds of thousands of people and causing significant casualties. The violence worsened two weeks ago, with intensified Sudanese military aerial bombardments and ground fighting as well as reported clashes between Sudanese and South Sudanese troops. The Khartoum government continues to bar humanitarian aid groups from working in the region.
Melissa Winkler (New York)
+1 212-551-0972 / +1 646 734 0305
Stefano Gelmini (London)
+44 207 692 2739 / +44 7884 263343