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With her four children under the age of 9, Joy walked for two weeks to reach Uganda, fleeing brutal violence and unrest in South Sudan. Last spring, Joy was one of 2,000 South Sudanese arriving in Uganda each day.
When Joy arrived in Uganda, she was welcomed at a government transit camp and put on a list for a housing settlement. Many camps and settlements have health clinics staffed with nurses, but the influx of people is overwhelming: There is little running water and clinics quickly run out of the most basic medicines.
For mothers like Joy, such conditions make health hard to maintain. “Health workers in the transit camps and settlements are working to meet the needs of the refugee influx, but with little expectation that the situation will improve any time soon, the situation here is urgent,” explained AmeriCares Senior Associate Julia Bolton, who toured the camps in March, when she met Joy and visited staff at health centers.
Health workers are worried that rainy season floods will bring cholera and other waterborne diseases. “That possibility, on top of the ongoing medical needs, is of serious concern,” says Bolton. “In crowded settlements, medical needs can quickly overwhelm local health care capabilities.”
We are collaborating with Baylor International Pediatric AIDs Initiative and the Ugandan Department of Health to develop a steady supply of medicine to help refugees like Joy and her children stay healthy. In April, AmeriCares airlifted an emergency medical module to Uganda with enough medicine to meet the needs of 20,000 people for three months.
Because of our strong partner network in Uganda, the medicines and supplies we deliver can be quickly distributed to help replenish stocks of emergency medicines in 9 clinics operating in refugee settlements in the West Nile districts of Koboko, Arua and Adjumani.
The violent ongoing conflict has created an urgent health and humanitarian crisis, forcing more than 923,000 from their homes within the country, while an additional 293,000 have fled to neighboring countries. More than 100,000 South Sudanese have fled since the escalation of violence began in December, and the exodus continues.
Since the brutal conflict began, AmeriCares has provided more than $2 million in emergency medical and humanitarian aid to partners helping people in the war-torn region. Additional shipments are underway, but much more is needed.