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The Bidi Bidi camp, one of a series of refugee centers in northern Uganda, houses some , people.

History of South Sudan

No longer accepting new arrivals, it is transitioning into a settlement for long-term residents. But the flow of refugees continues into the surrounding area. Proper sanitation and health care are major challenges in these camps, and the diseases waiting there can be as deadly as the conflict the refugees left behind. There are no precise figures for the number of deaths in Bidi Bidi due to disease. At the same time, there is a pernicious misconception that when refugees flee, they bring diseases with them and sicken uninfected populations.


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The World Health Organization is clear that there is no systematic association between refugees and disease. Instead, the problems that refugees face are common to all who struggle in poverty. The risk of disease increases when refugee populations are severely impoverished, like those coming from South Sudan. Many people arrived in Bidi Bidi, for example, with nothing but the clothes they had on. A family might dig out a latrine or construct a toilet much later.

'We just want to live' – on the road with South Sudan's refugees

Many people in Bidi Bidi use communal latrines. Aid agencies are trying to encourage households to maintain their own toilets and latrines. But it can take weeks to get new arrivals set up with a waste system that functions properly. On the most chaotic days, up to 8, people have arrived.

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They came with stories of profound brutality, of soldiers looting villages and raping their residents. If there was a woman, and the woman would not sleep with them, they would beat them, and then rape them. They would rape any woman. They wanted us to fear staying there.

They Fled War At Home. Now They’re Fighting Death In Crowded Refugee Camps. | HuffPost

So Lilian fled into the bush the following day with her two sisters. First, they dug a hole to hide in, she said.


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Later, they sheltered inside a truck, the driver of which had been shot. In early August, the sisters finally reached Uganda. Aid workers and officials were unprepared.

About , South Sudanese have fled to other east African countries since the civil war started in , but the worst was thought to be over after warring factions signed a fragile peace deal last year. That deal was broken in July , when supporters of President Salva Kiir clashed once more with those of the opposition leader, former vice-president Riek Machar, leaving Uganda and Sudan to shoulder the bulk of the humanitarian fallout. Since the surge began, food rations have been slashed, halving the calorie intake for all but the most vulnerable.

Some reception centres are housing four times more refugees than their limit, leading to water shortages, and a cholera outbreak at one of the most overcrowded camps. A few South Sudanese head for Europe, but the number within east Africa is comparable in scale to recent refugee flows to Europe from the Middle East.

And their experiences are often just as hellish. Fighting has subsided in the capital, Juba, where Human Rights Watch reported women being assaulted outside UN compounds, and the Associated Press said aid workers were raped in their lodgings by government soldiers.

Ottoviana, a year-old former teacher, described an attack on a year-old female relative near the town of Loa. Victims described cruel and random attacks, perpetrated by government troops and rebels, that took place across the south-east of the country. Jen Gune, a year-old police officer, was on duty on 21 July when she said she saw soldiers stop an year-old on his motorcycle, and summarily execute him. Good hygiene despite challenges of being in a camp. Refugee hosting districts in Uganda still lack basic services like water, sanitation and shelter.

Sources, with Particular Reference to the Southern Sudan.

Uganda, 13 March More stories from Uganda 10 Sep Uganda hosts first-ever conference on child poverty 10 Aug Village health teams, key structures in saving mothers and their babies from preventable deaths 9 Aug Off-grid communities in South Sudan turn to solar power for clean water 20 Jun Good hygiene despite challenges of being in a camp 6 Jun Refugee hosting districts in Uganda still lack basic services like water, sanitation and shelter 20 Mar Chasing water from space.

Hygiene promoters teach communities how to effectively wash their hands with soap in Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement. Hygiene promoters speak to community members during their hygiene and sanitation drives in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement.