Red Cross distributes aid to 80,000 refugees in South Sudan
By Godfrey Olukya 15-11-2012
The International committee of Red Cross, ( ICRC ) has distributed aid to 80,000 refugees in South Sudan.
The refugees who got aid today are part of the thousands of refugees who recently fled the ongoing fighting in Sudan and are now sheltering in camps in Maban county, in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state.
However, although the refugees have received aid including food, tents and clothes, the biggest challenge they are facing is lack of clean water. The ICRC has ebraked on trying to improve access to clean water.
The ICRC launched a project in September to strengthen the existing water distribution network in Yusuf Batil refugee camp, one of four camps in Maban county, close to the Sudanese border, and the worst hit by water shortages.
Some 37,000 people have found refuge in Yusuf Batil. The ICRC is installing piping, storage tanks, tap stands and pumps, especially on the camp’s peripheries where water is least available.
‘There is shortage of clean water in the camps. That has led to poor hygiene and spread of diseases such as diarrhoea, ‘said Adrian Zimmermann, who is in charge of ICRC assistance programmes in South Sudan.
‘We are working with other organizations to increase water supply and we are also putting tap stands closer to communities to stop people having to walk so far for water.’ he added.
he said that in Jamam refugee camp they have just completed installing a 15-kilometre water distribution pipeline to help maintain a regular supply to the refugees there. Jamam is a natural transit point for the flow of newly arrived refugees, which has largely subsided since the last major influx in May and June.
‘Those strong enough to have made the journey from Sudan in recent weeks and months waded through waste-high muddy water to get there,’ explained Zimmermann. ‘However, now the dry season is upon us, it will be easier for people to move. There is a real possibility more refugees reach the camps.’ he added.
In all four refugee camps in Maban country, jerrycans, buckets, soap and washing basins were also provided in an effort to improve hygiene practices.
‘We are trying to ensure that families collect and store water safely,’ said Zimmermann.