Source: member //

Photo by: Christian Als

20,000 refugees are living under open sky in South Sudan. Another 35,000 are expected to cross the border from Sudan in the coming weeks. None of the existing refugee camps in the area have the capacity to receive the new refugees, and although it is still under establishment, the Danish Refugee Council’s Batil camp has already received 3000 refugees.

UNHCR is now distributing much needed food among the 20,000 refugees caught under open sky in South Sudan - until now some have been surviving by eating leaves. However, the water-supply is limited and the refugees must be transferred to refugee camps to find shelter and security.

"There are only three refugee camps in the border area. In the Jamman camp there is shortage of water. Parts of the Doro camp is flooded because of the rainy season, and therefore it is only our newly established Batil camp is capable of receiving refugees, "said Emergency Coordinator for the Danish Refugee Council, Christian Gad.

The Batil camp has been established in cooperation between UNHCR and the Danish Refugee Council to address the expected pressure from refugees fleeing fighting and conflict in the border region between Sudan and South Sudan. Because of the problems in the other camps the Batil camp is now receiving refugees even though it is not yet fully functional.

"The Batil camp is fairly well organized by now with registration, tents and distribution of cooking utensils, blankets and other necessary non-food items in place. But we are expecting up to 25.000 people and that is a challenge because the water supply, latrines and infrastructure of the camp are not yet at full capacity, "says Christian Gad.

The first successful water drills in the camp were conducted just this week, but it is not yet possible to pump up sufficient water. At the same time more latrines need to be constructed and a central road must be established in the camp to ensure passage for refugees and relief aid.

"The situation is serious for the refugees in the area, and we are working to ensure that the camp has the capacity to receive more people. We are faced with some serious challenges, but the only alternative is to leave the refugee families exposed in open air, so we are forced to find solutions, "says Christian Gad.

The Danish Refugee Council has operated in Sudan since 2004. When South Sudan gained independence in 2011, the Danish Refugee Council was already present in the country. With the expansion of the humanitarian operations, the organisation is now active in four regions in southern Sudan - Upper Nile State, Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Warrap and Central Equatoria.

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