Sudanese struggling to cope amid health crisis in Gorom  refugee camp

Thousands of Sudanese refugees who fled conflict in their country are struggling to cope amid health crisis, caused by shortage of health professionals and medicine at the only health facility within Gorom refugee settlement located along Yei road in Juba.
Jaffer Alduod Mohamed Adam standing flanked by children in Gorom refugee settlement on December 7, 2023

By Simon Deng

Thousands of Sudanese refugees who fled conflict in their country are struggling to cope amid health crisis, caused by shortage of health professionals and medicine at the only health facility within Gorom refugee settlement located along Yei road in Juba.

 Jaffer Alduod Mohamed Adam, 38, who is currently among the more than 10,000 refugees staying in Gorom refugee camp, said he has failed to get treatment for the persistent back pain and injuries he sustained while fleeing fighting near his home located in Sofou area of the twin city of Omdurman.

“I am one of the people who got injured during fighting, I have serious back pain, I sustained injuries in my spinal code when I fell onto a crate of soda during fighting, there is no way I can get treatment in Gorom for my spinal code,” Adam told The Dawn on Thursday last week in an interview in Gorom refugee settlement.

Adam prior to fleeing fighting in Sudan in June used to vend vegetable and fruits in the Omdurman central market.

 “The deteriorating health situation here is even killing people. Here in the camp, we have serious health problems, no doctors, no health services, people are dying. We are more than 10,000 people but we have only one doctor,” said Adam.

He is among several refugees separated from the close family members since outbreak of fighting on April 15 in Khartoum.

Adam to date does not know the whereabouts of his father, mother and siblings as heavy artillery gunfire continues in the capital city between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces loyal to Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo commonly known as Hemedti.

 “We were doing well in Khartoum, our lives were okay but now my family is scattered, it is bitter for me, I do not know whether they have managed to flee somewhere, whether they are dead or alive,” said Adam.

Aisha Bala Adam Abdallah standing  (Far-Right) with other Sudanese refugees in Gorom camp.

Aisha Bala Adam Abdallah, 22, and mother of one girl said she remains frightened about the safety of her only child who remained behind in Khartoum with some of her relatives.

She says the situation at the Gorm refugee camp is ve2ry difficult for most of them have spent months there.

 “With the situation we face here, it is better we go back home, people are sleeping on empty stomachs, there are no health services, there is no treatment for all refugees, some people even prefer going back,” said Abdallah.

“There are many things we have witnessed, there are people who died because there is no treatment, if we have a way to return to Khartoum we better go back, we better die of war than to die of hunger,” she added.

Mustafa Abdalgadir Tajaldin also known as Dikwa wangke, 26, said he has spent about 6 months in Gorom refugee settlement.

He said majority of the people here have lost relatives during the ongoing war in Sudan, adding that many people are traumatized and are in need of counseling and psychosocial support which is lacking due to shortage of manpower in the health facility servicing thousands of refugees.

“Young people have lost education opportunity and under such situation it is difficult to move on, there are also health problems in Gorom, we need education and trainings,” said Abdalgadir who is a graduate of information technology.

He currently teaches fellow refugees in his local Fur language in a makeshift classroom made of papyrus and grass thatched materials at his home.

The Gorom refugee settlement was initially established in 2011 to accommodate about 3000 Anyuak refugees from Ethiopia, the camp is now hosting other nationalities such as Sudanese and minorities from from DR.Congo and Burundi.

Dut  Akol Kuol, director general for protection  and refugees welfare in the South Sudan commission for refugees affairs (CRA) said Gorom refugee settlement is not hosting Sudanese but other foreign nationalities such as the Anyuak from Ethiopia and a few people from Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We have other minorities that we cannot really count, these are the people who had problems in other camps and we transferred them to Gorom,” said Kuol.

He said that they are continuing to register more Sudanese refugees who are arriving at particularly Gorom refugee settlement, adding that some other Sudanese are living in Juba as urban refugees who are not eligible for services such as relief food but only accorded protection.

Kuol said they also plan to relocate all Sudanese refugees to Aweil town of Northern Bahr El Ghazal state near Sudan.

However, Kuol also noted that some Sudanese who do not qualify for refugee status are masquerading to be registered as refugees in Gorom refugee settlement so that they can qualify for benefits such as tax exemption and work permit.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recently said that over 400,000 people have crossed into South Sudan since the start of fighting in April 15 this year.

OCHA noted that 88 percent of these people are South Sudanese returnees and 12 percent Sudanese refugees.

In September, Albino Akol Atak, the national minister for humanitarian affairs and disaster management warned of the destructive nature of the conflict in Sudan, saying that the spillover could strain resources available in South Sudan.

 OCHA said recently that it is in urgent need of 1.8 billion U.S dollars to assists 6 out of 9 million most vulnerable people in 2024 in South Sudan

“In 2024, 9 million vulnerable people are projected to be in need of some form of humanitarian assistance. Of these, humanitarian partners will target 6 million with the most acute needs,” it said.

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