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AWEIL WEST COUNTY - 4 Mar 2024

Sudanese refugees in Aweil West County narrate arduous journey, plight in camp

Sudanese refugees at the Wadwiel Refugee Settlement. (Photo: Radio Tamazuj)
Sudanese refugees at the Wadwiel Refugee Settlement. (Photo: Radio Tamazuj)

Sudanese refugees who fled the devastating war in Sudan through harrowing voyages to seek refuge in South Sudan’s Wadwiel Refugees settlement have said they have also been greeted with challenges and hunger stares them in the face daily.

Some of the refugees who crossed the border into South Sudan and are now hosted at the Wadwiel Refugee Settlement in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State’s Aweil West County described heart-wrenching experiences and said they are surviving at God’s mercy.

A refugee who identified himself as Jaber Salah-Adin Abdallah, who is also suffering from an eye infection, said that when he arrived in July 2023, he could see through his affected left eye but that he now cannot see and the pain has now affected his right eye too.

“When I arrived here, I could see with my left eye but now I no longer see with it and the pain has moved to my right eye, if the situation continues, I am afraid I will be completely blind and this is going to be tragic for me,” he lamented.

Abdallah decried the inadequate food, shortage of healthcare services for aging people and those with chronic diseases, and the challenge of sanitation and hygiene in the camp.

“If you are lucky, you can have one meal a day,” he added.

Another refugee, Zainab Ali, who fled from South Darfur State’s Nyala Rown to Wadwiel said her husband and their son were wounded by a missile that cut off the boy’s right arm and hurt his leg and is now facing challenges getting proper treatment.

“My son was brutally hurt and I cannot manage to treat him and he has now been referred to Aweil Hospital and his legs are almost paralyzed because when he walks a short distance, his legs become motionless,” she stated while sobbing.

She appeals to humanitarian agencies and well-wishers to help with the treatment of her son who needs special health attention. 

For his part, Mahmoud Mohammed, the chairperson of the Sudanese refugees in Wadwiel, narrated that they are facing multiple challenges including a lack of proper shelter, schools, and medical facilities.

“The UNHCR has built for us shelters as best they could, but for us, it is not secure and once you leave your house, a thief can break in and steal your belongings and this has happened many times,” he explained. “We would like to thank the local authorities and the South Sudan Commission for Refugees Affairs for providing us security.”

According to Mohammed, the World Food Programme (WFP) has reduced food rations from 70 to 50 percent, leading to malnutrition among toddlers.

“The WFP 50 percent food ration, as you have seen, has caused malnutrition among children because it is not adequate nor a balanced diet,” he lamented. “We call on the international community and all humanitarian organizations to support us with food because people here are malnourished and the reason everybody knows, is we were forced out of our home by war.” 

Mohammed also appealed for more health care services, especially for those with chronic diseases, because he says the MSF hospital is only treating children and pregnant mothers.

The majority of refugees complained about the lack of food and poor healthcare services for women and elderly who are battling chronic diseases.

They also urged humanitarian organizations and the Government of South Sudan to build schools and help those seeking higher learning to get scholarships and admission into local universities.