Sudan refugees face dire water shortages

April 27, 2012 at 10:18 AM
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JUBA, South Sudan, April 27 (UPI) -- Water shortages are threatening the lives of tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees in South Sudan who need to be moved quickly, an aid agency said.

The estimated 37,000 refugees in South Sudan's Jamam camp in the Upper Nile region also face a growing threat of fatal disease, the British aid group Oxfam said Friday.

Oxfam said in a news release there are fears more refugees will arrive to escape conflict along the border between Sudan and South Sudan.

"We are fast running out of time and options in the midst of a huge humanitarian crisis. … The only solution is for people to be moved urgently," Pauline Ballaman, head of Oxfam's operations in Jamam, said in the release.

Heavy rains in the coming weeks will make it more difficult to deliver aid and relocate refugees, increase the threat of diseases such as malaria and cholera and destroy fragile shelters used by new arrivals, Oxfam said.

Oxfam is calling on other agencies and local authorities to "urgently" prepare a new, safe site for 23,000 people where long-term water sources are available. Safe drinking water is extremely scarce in the remote Upper Nile region.

More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee Sudan because of fighting in Blue Nile and the conflict in Southern Kordofan, and hundreds of thousands more have been displaced within Sudan, Oxfam said.

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