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Red Cross releases £200,000 to help Sudan conflict refugees

24 September 2012

The British Red Cross has released £200,000 from its Disaster Fund to help refugees in Yusuf Batil camp in South Sudan, where malnutrition has reached alarming levels.

Fleeing armed conflict, many thousands of Sudanese refugees from Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states have flooded into Upper Nile state in South Sudan since September 2011. Their numbers have been increasing since May 2012.

So far, more than 170,000 refugees have made the long journey across the border to South Sudan. Many people seek shelter in isolated camps after having travelled for weeks on foot from remote areas. But the camps’ stretched resources are often insufficient to cover their basic needs.

In Yusuf Batil camp in Upper Nile State malnutrition rates are extremely high – particularly among small children.

Dire conditions

Severe water shortages in refugee camps close to the Sudanese border have worsened the humanitarian situation, making conditions dire and survival a struggle. Seasonal heavy rains, which will continue through to November, make the area extremely inhospitable, creating thick mud and large swathes of stagnant water.

Lacking clean water, refugees are drinking contaminated surface water. This leaves people – particularly children – vulnerable to death from water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is tackling this emergency by expanding Yusuf Batil camp's water infrastructure – installing water distribution piping, storage tanks, tapstands and pumps to provide enough water for half the camp's population. It will also distribute jerrycans and buckets so people are better able to collect and store water.

In addition, the ICRC will distribute clothing, tarpaulin, blankets, mosquito nets and sleeping mats to everyone in the camp – helping people protect themselves from the elements and mosquitos. The British Red Cross is giving £200,000 to buy these items.

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