In an orderly Ethiopian camp, South Sudanese refugees face malnutrition, trauma
Out of a population of about 12 million, 1.9 million South Sudanese are currently displaced within the country and more than two million are living in camps like these in neighbouring countries.
#Nguenyyiel, the newest and biggest camp in the Gambella region, is home to more than 75,000 South Sudanese refugees. It was opened in 2016 following flare-ups between opposing South Sudanese factions to accommodate a new influx of refugees to this sparsely populated, low-lying and remote corner in southwest Ethiopia. The region currently hosts more than 360,000 refugees from South Sudan.https://images.thestar.com/QhdlR4bUcmu0fvWljUx5kRHCC34=/850x567/smart/filters:cb(1553276454589)/https://www.thestar.com/content/dam/thestar/news/world/2019/03/24/in-an-orderly-ethiopian-camp-south-sudanese-refugees-face-malnutrition-trauma/_4ethiopia_camp.jpg
Unlike most refugee camps, Nguenyyiel at first appears calm, clean and orderly. Neat rows of tukuls, the cone-shaped mud huts with thatched roofs common to this region, give the appearance of a genuine local village.
As we drive through the wide and tidy streets, I watch teenagers playing soccer, goats foraging for food, and youngsters dodging small dust whirls as they wander arm in arm among spotless latrines made of shiny corrugated metal.
But behind this hygienic order is a tenuousness that continues to threaten those living here. Outside the camp, the crisis has destabilized the region, where clashes between different ethnic groups are common. Women, children and youth make up the majority of residents in the camp — 62 per cent are younger than 18 — because many men remain behind in South Sudan to guard homes and farmland. Several women and children who left the safety of Nguenyyiel to collect firewood in the nearby forests have been sexually assaulted and killed.
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