Over the past eight months, roughly 60,000 refugees from Sudan’s South Kordofan State have come to Yida, in South Sudan’s Unity State seeking sanctuary. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been working in the camp for that entire period, but teams have seen conditions deteriorate badly of late, with profound medical consequences for the refugees themselves.
Having fled aerial bombardments and longstanding deprivation, they found in Yida a sprawling camp short on resources and services and offering living conditions that have worsened dramatically with the onset of the rainy season. Photographer John Stanmeyer of VII Photo is in Yida this week, and captured the following images of people in dire need of assistance, enduring circumstances that are already claiming, according to epidemiological data, the lives of more than five children each day. “The number of children dying in Yida is appalling,” said André Heller Pérache, MSF head of mission in South Sudan, earlier this month.
Since November 2011, MSF has been operating emergency programs in South Sudan for refugees fleeing South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan. MSF has field hospitals in five refugee camps in Unity and Upper Nile states in South Sudan (Batil, Gendrassa, Doro, Jamam, and Yida) and is treating several thousand children each week in therapeutic feeding programs. Furthermore, MSF is vaccinating against measles, providing water and sanitation in the camps, and distributing basic emergency survival items, including soap, plastic sheeting, and food rations.