2012-06-14 17:00:42

Sudanese Refugees Dying of Thirst

JUBA, Jun 14 2012 (IPS) - Sudanese refugees have started dying as a camp in South Sudan ran out of water four days ago after a massive influx of people fled across the border to escape war and hunger.

The refugees are fleeing Sudan’s Blue Nile state where insurgents are fighting to overthrow the Sudanese government.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said earlier in an April report that civilians are suffering from an indiscriminate aerial bombing campaign.

Voitek Asztabski, an emergency coordinator with Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), said some refugees died as they walked seven to 10 hours to a new site in search of water after camp Kilometer 48 in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state ran out of it on Jun 11.

The agency is still carrying out a mortality survey to find out how many adults and children have died and what the causes are. However, MSF estimates that an average of five to 10 people have died each day since water ran out at the Kilometer 48 camp.

MSF said in a statement on Jun. 13 that “the 15,000 refugees remaining at this location walked en masse the 25 km to the nearest location with available water.”

Heavy rains prevented agencies from moving them by truck on flooded roads.

“We observed people dying of thirst, of dehydration,” Asztabski said by satellite phone from camp Kilometer 18, the new site with limited available water. “That was quite a horrifying activity being witnessed by us here.”

Some people were too weak to respond to medical care.

“We went early on Tuesday morning to provide medical assistance and rehydration points along the route,” said MSF’s Dr. Erna Rijnierse in the statement.

“It was a truly shocking sight as we witnessed some of the weakest dying as they walked – too dehydrated for even the most urgent medical care to save them.”

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