August 8, 2014 (KAMPALA) – About 40,000 civilians are currently living in an overcrowded United Nation camp in South Sudan’s Unity state, a situation likely to worsen with the coming rains, the international medical charity (MSF) said.
Ivan Gayton, MSF’s emergency coordinator in the state, described the situation as “horrific”, saying those displaced had no choice but to stay in the flooded camp.
"Much of the camp was flooded in July with the first heavy downpour of the rainy season. Over one thousand make shift shelters are filled with sewage contaminated floodwater. People used cooking pots to scoop up the water, tried to build mud dams across doorways to prevent water entering, but to no avail," MSF said in a statement.
Chot Yiel Wang, a displaced resident, told Sudan Tribune via satellite phone that the whole area was flooded with water, adding that many people remained at high risk.
"Now it has reached to an extent whereby every day we lose a child because of this tragedy of flood water. We are urging the United Nation and their partners to at least do something before the situation gone wild," Wang said in an interview on Friday.
Most parts of the camps, he further disclosed, were flooded into causing several sewage floors in and around the protection of civilian sites.
“Thousands of people cannot lay down for sleep, some mothers hold children on their arms day and night,” said the Unity state resident.
An aid worker, who did not want his organisation mentioned, said it consecutively rained for four days rain and that the entire camp had turned into shores.
"As I speak to you now, the whole protection site is controlled by water. UNMISS is trying to pump out water, but still there is nothing improving," the aid worker told Sudan Tribune.
“There are high risks of waterborne diseases, if no actions are taken sooner in the internal displace people camps in Bentiu,” he added.
Children under five year, Gayton said, account for more than third of the displaced population in the Unity state capital, Bentiu.
"We have seen over 200 deaths in our hospital since May 2014. Most of them are children. Although mortality rates have improved in the last few weeks, we still see at least one child dying every day", he said.
According to MSF most of those displaced in the UN camp were forced in to the facility due to violence and harassments they reportedly faced from armed men positioned a few meters outside the UN gates.
"Women and girls searching for firewood outside the camp are at particular risk of sexual violence and MSF has treated several survivors already. Not only should perpetrators be held responsible for such acts of aggression against civilians but UNMISS should ensure that civilians are protected outside the perimeter fence too, either through special patrols to protect those gathering firewood," noted the medical charity.
At least 10,000 people have been killed in South Sudan since the fighting broke out in December, according to UN reports, with at least 1.4 million reportedly displaced from their homes and humanitarian agencies warned of famine facing 4 million others have not been able to farm at the onset of rain season this year.