Gaining independence in 2011 has been a triumphant moment in the history of South Sudan. The conflict between the two Sudanese territories was the catalyst for South Sudan to declare that it was state that could stand on its own. But when the warring SPLM-N rebels and the Sudanese Armed Forces collided, there was mayhem throughout the country. Nearly 4 million Sudanese citizens have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in neighboring nations, including Egypt, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
Towns and villages went up in flames. With their crops destroyed and cattle slaughtered, starvation was imminent. Thousands of children were separated from their families. Some were even recruited as soldiers. Disease ran rampant. From the conflict in South Sudan the largest refugee emergency in African history has emerged.
Yusuf Batil, one of four refugee camps in the Upper Nile state had its population swell from 4,000 to more than 36,000 refugees in just a month during June 2012. Various groups and agencyies have worked steadily to maintain the site and create tolerable living conditions. They continued to welcome refuges that had traveled far and wide in search of safety. Many refugees are forced to endure unspeakable upheaval and trauma. Weeks had been spent hiking through difficult terrain and hiding in forests, mountains and caves. Meanwhile, violence still raged in the Bau region of Blue Nile state.
Much of this journey was spent without clean drinking water and adequate nutrition. The refugees drank whatever water they could find from open sources where cattle drank and even defecated. With the absence of food, the refugees ate wild roots and berries from trees. The grueling journey left many dead or abandoned. The most vulnerable population, children and the elderly, often has to be left behind once they fall ill to avoid slowing down the other displaced travelers. WIth the massive population, poor hygiene practices, and weakened immune systems the camp has become a breeding ground for infection and the spread of diseases.
Despite these challenges, aid groups continue their fight to prevent diseases and increase the quality of living for the refugees. There are supplementary feeding programs and hydration points that have been set up. Extra blankets and mosquito nets have been made available to combat malaria. While the fight is far from over, officials say that steps are being made in the right direction. Even so, the United Nations refugee agency has stated that with millions already displaced, the number of South Sudanese fleeing for neighboring nations is expected to reach a figure as high as 715,000 by the end of 2014. This is twice the amount that was projected in earlier reports. With South Sudan on the brink of famine ,the need for assistance is overwhelming. The world must help the people of South Sudan while they are also battling to help themselves.