Africa’s biggest refugee crisis

The situation in South Sudan is critical. What began as a political crisis in December 2013 fast escalated into in a large-scale civil war, resulting in the loss of over 50,000 lives, one million people on the brink of famine and the displacement of over 1.8 million people.

This is now the largest refugee crisis in Africa and the third largest in the world after Syria and Afghanistan.

Almost one million people have fled to Uganda, over 400,000 to Sudan and over 300,000 to Ethiopia.

Islamic Relief is providing emergency aid to newly-arrived refugees in Sudan.

Over 152,000 refugees have arrived in 2017, with a staggering 43,000 in the month of May alone.

We are providing food, safe drinking water and essential household items to over 64,000 refugees in West Kordofan.

Islamic Relief’s country director in Sudan, Syed Shahnawaz Ali, said: “With 1,000 refugees arriving every day from South Sudan now, the needs are so great, but we are doing what we can to support them and make life as comfortable as we possibly can.”

Struggling to survive

Ashol (26) fled her home village of Majok in Warrap State after rebels completely destroyed the village and shot dead her husband during the raid. With no food, very few belongings and the constant fear of being attacked along the way, she fled for her life with her three daughters (aged six, three and just seven months).

“I was so scared and worried – especially about my children- but I had no choice. I had to take the decision,” she explained.

The journey was long, with no guarantee that they would arrive at their destination. They walked for hours under the burning sun and at night, Ashol would cook leaves from trees for her children to eat.

But hunger and exhaustion were the least of her worries; her biggest fear became a reality when her group came face to face with South Sudanese rebels who abducted the young men and attacked the women.

Eventually, they arrived at El Meirram  in West Kordofan, weak, sick and traumatised.

“The first few months were a challenge,” explained Ashol. “I struggled to find a job and I was unable to meet the needs of my family. I have started working as a servant, cleaning and washing clothes, yet the salary is hardly sufficient for me to be able to support my children. I can’t afford to enrol them in school or take them to the health clinic.

“We have no proper shelter to protect us from the upcoming rainy season. I dream that we all have a bed to sleep in, with blankets to cover my children and mosquito nets to protect them from the insect bites”.

A lifeline for the refugees

Islamic Relief is now helping Ashol and her family, along with over 64,000 others. In addition to providing food, safe drinking water, latrines and essential household items, we are also helping people to be able to earn a living by training them in book-keeping and how to operate and manage hand-pumps, build latrine slabs and manage water resources. We are also delivering much needed hygiene training sessions to help combat diseases such as typhoid and cholera.

Syed Shahnawaz Ali added: “Unfortunately the conflict in South Sudan shows no sign of abating and thousands more refugees will be arriving in the months to come. We are being stretched to the limits and are calling for more funds to accommodate these extra numbers and to be able to provide comprehensive support to them.”

Find out more about our work in Sudan

Islamic Relief is also providing support to people affected by the conflict inside South Sudan. Find out more here