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Juba - 3 Jun 2012

MSF: 30,000 refugees fled Blue Nile in past 2 weeks

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says the fighting in Blue Nile state is forcing thousands of residents to flee daily over the border into South Sudan. 'We have a real emergency on our hands', says MSF's emergency coordinator, Patrick Swartenbroekx. 

MSF said in a press statement that 30,000 refugees crossed the border to South Sudan in the last two weeks. 

An MSF spokesperson said many of the refugees are suffering from intense fatigue, and many were forced to leave behind ill or elderly residents unable to walk the long distances to safety. The new inflow of refugees adds to the number of 70,000 people from Blue Nile already sheltering in eastern Upper Nile, mostly in Doro and Jammam camps.

The Brussels-based branch of MSF believes that many people are still waiting to cross the border into the UN-run camps, which are overflowing, lacking water and basic services, unable to address demand. MSF downplayed the impact of the UNHCR's 'long-discussed' new camp Yusuf Batil, saying the camp currently provides only enough water for 3000 to 4000 refugees. 

MSF is calling on the UN Refugee Agency to identify a suitable place to settle the new refugees, to urgently provide clean drinking water and to improve roads access to the refugees.

Swartenbroekx said that MSF is providing medical care and 90,000 litres of water per day to the gathering point of the new 30,000 refugees at a place called Rum. 'But the ponds here will be empty at the end of this week - after that the situation becomes really critical', he added.

The start of the rainy season is set to complicate access to the area further. 'A nightmare scenario is starting to unfold', said Jean-Marc Jacobs, MSF's deputy head of mission.