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Sudan conflict forces refugees into dire conditions at Renk and Bulukat Transit Centers

[Photo: MSF]

Azra Hoosen | ah@radioislam.co.za
21 June 2024 | 10:30 CAT
2 min read

Amidst the ongoing conflict in Sudan, the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan has intensified, with over 680,000 people seeking refuge since April. The Renk transit center, situated just 60 kilometres from Joda, has become a critical site, hosting 13,000 refugees and returnees fleeing the war.

Conditions there are dire, marked by severe food, water, shelter, sanitation, and healthcare shortages. Similarly, about 300 kilometres away, the Bulukat transit center faces similar challenges.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is actively raising awareness about the plight of those at Renk and Bulukat, underscoring how the conflict in Sudan exacerbates humanitarian needs in an already vulnerable region of South Sudan.

In an interview with Radio Islam, Zakaria Mwatia, Head of Mission at MSF Sudan, highlighted a concerning rise in the number of children under five affected by malnutrition and other diseases. “We are also seeing respiratory tract infections and increased diarrhoea cases among all people. Since the start of the rains in June, there has been a sharp increase in malaria cases in Renk and Bulkat,” he said.

Mwatia noted that while authorities in South Sudan have been supportive and collaborative with NGOs providing humanitarian assistance, a significant challenge remains. “One of the major issues we face in transit centers is the lack of capacity to transport people to their destinations,” he said.

He highlighted that for people returning to Sudan or South Sudan or to their villages of origin, transportation often relies on planes or boats due to the absence of roads. This situation leads to severe overcrowding and frustrations in the centers, where individuals are enduring challenging living conditions.

According to Mwatia, unfortunately, there is currently not enough emphasis on empowering refugees in the long term, largely due to shifting support from donors and a lack of sustained focus. “The huge and unfolding Sudan crisis is not getting enough attention from the other organisations who have the means to empower the refugees in different capacities,” he remarked.

As Doctors Without Borders, Mwatia highlighted their focus is primarily on providing medical aid and psychological support. They collaborate closely with partner organisations for other protection needs such as clothing, shelter, and safe spaces for children. “There is good collaboration with other NGOs to address protection needs within limited capacity,” he noted.

Mwatia recounted a poignant story of people in Sudan undertaking arduous journeys through miles of bushland, enduring dehydration and malnourishment in search of medical assistance. One family, in particular, faced immense adversity but eventually found relief when their malnourished child received care at the MSF Bulkat center.

LISTEN to the full interview with Ml Junaid Kharsany and Zakaria Mwatia, Head of Mission at MSF Sudan, here.

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