14th July 2024
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7 infants die as diseases plague returnees at border

Author: Chany Ninrew | Published: Saturday, July 1, 2023

Map showing border-crossing points between Sudan and South Sudan | Source: IOM, UNHCR

Returnees and refugees at transit centers in South Sudan’s north are suffering from a deteriorating humanitarian situation and outbreaks of multiple childhood diseases resulting in deaths, according to a UN agency.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs revealed – in its latest Sudan Crisis Situation Report – that seven children have died of sicknesses at the Paloch Transit Site in the past weeks.

It said children’s health situation has deteriorated at the Paloch center.

“Many children are reported to suffer pneumonia, acute watery diarrhoea, and other infections. Measles cases were confirmed on 29 June 2023,” the agency said in the statement.

“Reports indicate that seven children died, however, the exact causes are unknown.”

UNOCHA said it recorded the arrival of nearly 140,000 people since the beginning of the crisis and that the number of arrivals is projected to continue increasing as the conflict in Sudan continues.

Majority of the arrivals (91 per cent) are South Sudanese returnees, while 6 per cent are Sudanese, and 3 per cent are other nationalities, says the agency.

The main point of entry for 73 per cent of the displaced population, is Wunthow near Renk County of Upper Nile State.

It said protection monitoring conducted at the border indicates “high numbers of vulnerable people among the arrivals, including unaccompanied children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities among the arrivals.

Other vulnerable groups are those with urgent medical needs, single or female-headed households, and pregnant women.

The UN said many arrivals have witnessed or been subjected to violence and exploitation such as extortion and looting, through their journey to South Sudan.

Onward transportation from border points remains a significant challenge, including due to rising prices, insecurity, and poor road conditions.

As of 24 June, 41,274 returnees were recorded as staying in Renk town. Of these, 17,068 individuals (41 per cent) are staying in collective centres and 24,206 are staying in the host community (59 per cent).

The agency said situation at the Paloich transit centre has worsened with the increasing influx of returnees and limited means of transport to other parts of the country.

“Although flights are being arranged, they are insufficient to reduce the numbers of people in and around the airport. The services available at the transit centre are inadequate to meet the needs of the increasing population.”


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