News24

South Sudan aid agencies swamped

2012-06-12 22:26

Juba - Aid agencies in South Sudan are being swamped by tens of thousands of refugees who are pouring into the country from the north in increasingly bad shape, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

The agencies are faced with the task of helping more than 150 000 people, essentially those who have fled south to escape hunger and bombing in Sudan's troubled border states.

"Our capacity to respond to this emergency is being challenged every single day and is being raised to new heights," Mireille Girard, the representative of the UN refugee agency in South Sudan, said in a statement.

She told journalists that refugees were arriving increasingly exhausted and malnourished, which showed the need for "urgent and relentless efforts".

"People are showing higher rates of malnutrition compared to before," she said.

The refugee agency said that by the end of May, 4 000 refugees were pouring into various camps from Sudan's Blue Nile state each day. Arrivals from the neighbouring South Kordofan State had risen to 800 people a day by the end of May from 80 in February.

Sudan has been battling rebels who fought alongside South Sudan during decades of civil war that eventually led to the July 2011 secession of the south.

Despite famine warnings, aid agencies have been blocked from accessing the two troubled areas.

UNHCR recently moved 8 000 people from Hofra, a transit point in South Sudan's Upper Nile state where 32 000 Blue Nile refugees have gathered since May,to create room for an anticipated influx this week.

"But those arriving tell us that there are still 10 000-15 000 more behind them," Girard said.