"With the current rain and cold, we are seeing refugees suffering from respiratory tract infections, diarrhea and malaria," Adrian Edwards, spokesman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said a statement issued from the agency's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
The agency said 170,000 refugees were living in camps and settlements in South Sudan's Unity and Upper Nile states after fleeing conflict and food shortages in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
In Upper Nile, nearly half the refugees are under the age of 11, which Edwards said was an unusually large proportion in refugee emergencies.
Earlier this month, the refugee agency and its partners began an extensive health and hygiene outreach program, emphasizing good, basic hygiene, Edwards said.
"We are trying to impress upon refugees the importance of fundamentals like hand-washing, collecting water in clean buckets and jerry-cans [fuel containers] and not defecating in the open," he said.
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