November 27, 2011:Refugee Numbers Increasing in Doro; Inadequate Food/Water/Medical Care
Based upon an assessment from Samaritan's Purse, here's what we now know about the current situation in Doro:
The UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) has registered 8,700 refugees in the Doro area, but the numbers are expected to increase, as entire villages of people are migrating down across the border, heading for Maaban County. Very shortly, it is expected the numbers will surpass 10,000.
· Inadequate food supply: the UNHCR has already distributed and ran out of their food stocks; the World Food Programme has yet to appear on the scene. Food available in the markets is insufficient to feed the swarms of refugees now camped out in the area. Refugees who have been walking for weeks/months are severly malnourished.
· Water & Sanitation: the average wait at one of the 3 boreholes within walking distance of the camp is 4-5 hours. Lack of proper latrines, basic hygiene supplies, and clean water is likely to lead to a disease outbreak.
· Health: Hospital patient numbers continue to rise as refugee population swells. There is limited nursing/hospital staffing. Dr. Atar, with support from Samaritan's Purse, is setting up a clinic with surgical capacity in Bunj. Medecins Sans Frontiers ("Doctors Without Borders") is moving in to set up a temporary medical facility which will most likely focus on critical care.
· Security: There have been very large troop buildups to secure the border of Upper Nile. There is minimal troop presence in Doro, mainly those in transport to the border regions. Aside from hearing Antenovs circling occasionally, there are no security indicators to point towards a northern attack on Upper Nile. There have recently been nightly bombings in Yabus (Blue Nile State), however there have not been any additional across-border bombings in Upper Nile as of late.
SIM Sudan is sending in an assessment team next week, flying into Doro on Tuesday, November 29th, which will hopefully lead to a strategic plan for how we can play a role in the relief work among refugees in the area, while partnering with the local church. A few of their objectives will be: (1) Explore how our facilities can be used as a blessing in the crisis (2) Evaluate nutritional needs and leprosy care (3) Encourage our staff (4) Evaluate the current medical ministry (5) Assess security that would directly affect SIM missionaries (6) Make further instruction to employees
Critical questions: "How is God moving in this situation? How do we fit into His plan? How can we partner with the Sudanese church to provide relief to these refugees? Where will the funding come from?"
All of these questions can be overwhelming. SIM Sudan may not be poised as a relief organization, but Jesus responded with compassion when He saw the crowds. (Matt. 9:36, Matt. 14:14, Matt. 15:32) How might we follow His example?