BEIRUT

Middle East

Sudanese refugee death rate soars in squalid, flooded camps

JUBA, South Sudan: Sudanese refugees fleeing civil war are dying at an alarming rate as they cope with "horrific living conditions" in flooded camps in South Sudan, a medical aid agency said Thursday.

Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres - MSF) said that mortality rates in South Sudan's Jamam refugee camp -- home to some 40,000 Sudanese who escaped war in Sudan's Blue Nile state -- are almost double emergency levels.

"These people have fled terrible violence in Sudan and lost family members during their arduous journeys for safety," said Tara Newell, MSF's emergency coordinator in the camp.

"Now they are sitting exposed in refugee camps on a flood plain and dying from preventable diseases," she added.

Around 120,000 people have fled fighting and bombing in Blue Nile since September, when war broke out between Khartoum and rebels that fought alongside newly independent South Sudan during decades of civil war.

In Jamam alone -- one of a series of camps -- almost nine children are dying every day, more than half due to diarrhoea, MSF said in a statement.

Many sleep in wet clothes under soaked blankets, while heavy rains last week caused latrines to overflow, contaminating already scarce water supplies and increasing cases of malaria and hypothermia.

"The living conditions in Jamam are now simply unacceptable," said Newell, who called on the United Nations to lead plans to "remove these refugees from the health risks associated with the dire living conditions in the camp."

 

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