11 year old Nyamer Nuon welcomes you to her home with her beautiful smile in Rhino Refugee Settlement Camp here in the northwestern Ugandan district of Arua. Behind the beautiful smile are scars of a brutal war back home, South Sudan. A crisis that has forced over 136,500 South Sudanese to cross to neighboring Uganda to seek refuge in the last one year. South Sudan
For Nuon, May 13 was her visit to Odoubu Heath Center, and the results are not good. For the last several weeks she has not put on weight despite being on therapeutic care. She is malnourished.
She is on a special feeding program provided by United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) with funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO). The malnourished children are given plumpy nut, a nutritious paste.
Nuon has not put on weight because she is sharing the nutritious paste with other foster children who lost their parents during fightings in South Sudan.
With the resurgence of fighting and new arrivals of South Sudan refugees in Uganda, humanitarian agencies are warning that the emergency situation may worsen.
“With the coming in of new caseloads, this presents a challenge. We receive cases of the severest form of malnutrition,” said Joseph Mbabazi, a nutritionist with Concern, a humanitarian agency working here.
“If fighting continues in South Sudan, the improving nutrition situation may worsen,” Mbabazi added.
As fighting resumes, donor agencies are warning that there are other countries that are equally in need of humanitarian relief.
“Recently we received ambassadors and they raised the issue of funding arguing that there are also other countries that are in need,” Jacob Opio, Unicef Program Officer Arua told Xinhua in an interview on May 13.
“From the humanitarian side you have to operate with the available resources. We have to keep the children and mothers alive,” he added.
These refugees have already faced the brunt of inadequate funding. In January this year, lack of funding forced the UN World Food Program to cut food rations to 146,000 refugees who had arrived in Uganda before July 2013. Although the cut did not affect the new arrivals of South Sudanese, it affected those that have been in the country before December 2013.
The UN food aid agency only resumed giving out the food rations in February after it received about 17.7 million U.S. dollars from the U.S. and Australia governments.
Despite the likely shortage in funding, the emergency response experts here are ready to soldier on.
With funding from ECHO, Unicef through its implementing partners like Concern and the Danish Refugee Council have been able to address the nutrition and sanitation concerns of the refugees especially the children and women.
Unicef has over the last one year sank 200 toilets, installed over 10,000 water taps, drilled 65 boreholes, rehabilitated 30 boreholes and installed 11 motorized boreholes. Motorized borehole is where water from a borehole is moved over a long distance through pipes.
On the nutrition side, the number of malnourished children has also gone down. Health workers and Village Health Teams (VHT) have been trained. VHTs are individuals selected by the village, and their role among others is to monitor the health condition of the people in the community. Incase of any concerns, they report these cases to the health facility. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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