UN South Sudan Camp's Living Conditions 'Horrifying, an Affront to Human Dignity'

UN South Sudan Camp's Living Conditions 'Horrifying, an Affront to Human Dignity'

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) revealed the horrid conditions at a United Nations camp in Bentiu, South Sudan. Over 40,000 refugees call the camp home due to a bloody civil war.

“Much of the camp was flooded in July with the first heavy downpour of the rainy season,” said MSF emergency coordinator Ivan Gayton. “Over one thousand makeshift shelters filled with sewage-contaminated floodwater.”

He went on: “With few possibilities for drainage, current living conditions in the camp are horrifying and an affront to human dignity. Most of the camp is now knee-deep in sewage. Thousands of people cannot lie down and therefore sleep standing up with their infants in their arms.”

As of Monday, there is not a response from the UN.

Gayton said 200 people died since May 2014, including children. The floods cause a child’s death every day from malnutrition or disease. Officials cannot transport food and medicine on time due to the water. 

MSF insisted the UN move the camp to drier grounds.

“Furthermore, there remains unused land in the zone, and the immediate allocation of land that is less susceptible to flooding would alleviate some of the current suffering,” said Gayton. “What’s clear is that the current situation is untenable without improvements. People should be safe from disease as well as safe from violence.”

People do not leave because the world outside of the camp is even worse. The dispute between President Salva Kiir and former deputy Riek Machar “escalated into ethnic violence.” Gayton said Bentiu is at a “standstill.” Armed men outside of the camp harass civilians. Women and girls face sexual violence from these armed men if they decide to retrieve firewood. Gayton claimed the charity treated many females for sexual assault. 

MSF wants the United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) to do more to secure the refugees inside the camp.

“Not only should perpetrators be held responsible for such acts of aggression against civilians but UNMISS should ensure that civilians are protected outside the perimeter fence too, either through special patrols to protect those gathering firewood, or by installing a gate on the east side of the camp where people say they feel less vulnerable to abuse,” he said.