For much of the year, Yida refugee camp on the border of Sudan and South Sudan is hot, dry, and seemingly barren. (Watch our video to get a glimpse of camp life.) Yida’s 70,000 residents depend almost entirely on the World Food Program (WFP) for nutritional support, and receive rations of sorghum, yellow peas, oil, and salt. This diet has brought many people back from the brink of severe malnutrition. But while the refugees may not be starving, today we are seeing a new challenge emerge: nutrient deficiency.
Nila is tired. Two weeks ago, she arrived in Yida camp, South Sudan, with her three young children in search of safety and food. Like the many people that fled before her, Nila and her family escaped from their homes in the middle of the night after relentless bombings by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) made it impossible for them to harvest their crops. As they hid in the caves away from the bombs, hunger set in, and finally they were forced to flee.
Samuel totters on uneven footing in the doorway of the thatch hut and gapes, open-mouthed, at the strangers in his house. He’s just a year old and has lived his entire life here in Yida, a transit camp for refugees in Unity State, South Sudan.
My Refugees International colleague and I perch on the edge of the bed that Samuel shares with his mom, Halima. When Samuel starts to whimper, Halima rises from her metal chair, held together by twine, scoops up the naked baby, and then returns to her chair and continues her story.
This post originally appeared on UN Dispatch.
Today, Marcy Hersh and I are en route to South Sudan, where we will spend the next three weeks assessing the conditions for displaced people in two of the harshest and most isolated areas of the country. In Jonglei and Unity states, an estimated 180,000 displaced persons are taking shelter in camps, with host families, and hiding in the bush, often with little to no support from the UN or humanitarian agencies.
Wednesday, December 5th, marked the deadline given by the African Union (AU) for the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to reach agreement on the contested border state of Abyei.
Throughout repeated rounds of Juba-Khartoum negotiations (and despite the efforts of the AU and U.S. mediators), the dispute over Abyei has remained intractable. As Wednesday’s deadline came and passed, the two countries remained just as gridlocked as they were in early September, when this most recent round of talks began.
I am excited to be joining RI as the new advocate for DRC and the Sudans. With the presidential election now approaching, and renewed Congressional interest in the conflicts of Sub-Saharan Africa, it is an exhilarating time to be joining the organization.
As the 67th General Assembly opens this week, and as the United Nations gears up for the countless high-level meetings and side events that follow, the enormity of the challenges facing the UN is striking.