Aid challenges mount in South Sudan’s Upper Nile, Unity states

Sudanese refugees arrive at Doro camp in South Sudan. More than 100,000 refugees have settled in South Sudan's Upper Nile and Unity states to flee the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile in Sudan. Photo by: Robert Stansfield / Department for International Development / CC BY-SA

Seasonal rains have started to fall in South Sudan, but not to the relief of thousands of water-deprived Sudanese refugees living in camps and temporary relocation sites there.

The rains, in fact, are expected to compound the already dire humanitarian situation in South Sudan’s Upper Nile and Unity states, where more than 100,000 refugees have settled after fleeing from the conflict-torn Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Aid groups such as the International Organization for Migration and Medecins Sans Frontieres have warned that the rains could hamper refugee movement and aid operations given the poor state of South Sudan’s infrastructure. MSF also raised concerns over the effects of heavy rains on refugees living under plastic tents, as well as on the possibility of flooding in refugee camps.

Even before the anticipated rains, aid groups were dealing with various challenges while working in three major camps in Upper Nile as well as the congested Yida camp in Unity state. Chief among these are the lack of adequate clean water and stretched health resources. IOM has scaled up its operations and appealed for $10 million to meet existing and emerging needs. 

The refugee situation in the Upper Nile and Unity states is just one of various humanitarian concerns across South Sudan, which is also facing a food crisis, lingering ethnic conflicts and the challenge of supporting returning residents. Expect these humanitarian issues and South Sudan’s overall development and political landscape to take center stage in coming days as the country marks it first anniversary as an independent country.

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About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.