Oxfam’s Skye Wheeler returned recently from a trip to a camp in Jamam, South Sudan, where refugees from conflict in Sudan are living in harsh conditions.
Among many other challenges, the first year of independence has seen the influx of some 170,000 refugees into South Sudan. Fleeing conflict in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, these refugees continue to face crisis upon arrival, including water and food shortages.
In the height of the dry season I visited Jamam camp in Upper Nile state (South Sudan), where Oxfam is struggling against a harsh and unyielding environment to provide water and sanitation for 32,000 of the refugees from Blue Nile. There I found people living in extreme difficulty – hardship that has worsened since these pictures were taken, as the rains have arrived in this remote part of South Sudan. Few have the shelter they need to adequately cope with the rains that also turn the ground to thick mud and will likely flood part of the camp.
As well as trucking water to tap stands in the camp, Oxfam is building latrines and is working with both the refugee and host population of about 3,000 people to spread vital hygiene messages and raise awareness on how to identify, treat, and prevent the spread of waterborne diseases. Oxfam is also stockpiling emergency supplies of water purification equipment, rehydration salts, and soap to help contain the spread of cholera if an outbreak happens. These refugees are entirely dependent on aid agencies. Oxfam delivers water and sanitation all over the world and conditions here are about as difficult as they get. (Read more about the Jamam camps and about Oxfam’s work in this emergency.)