Sudanese Refugees Flee Country and Hunger

One Area Has 4 Doctors for 3 Million Inhabitants

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YUMBE, Uganda, MAR. 27, 2001 ( Two thousand people recently fled from southern Sudan into Uganda, swelling the number of Sudanese refugees in this country to more than 194,000, the Jesuit Refugee Services reported.

The refugees had left camps which are sheltering those left homeless by the internal conflicts in Kirwa, Mangalatore and Kansuk, in KajuKeji county, and headed for Yumbe in northern Uganda. Most of the refugees have been settled in camps in Rhino.

«In the main, the new arrivals are women, young girls and children of the Dinka tribe,» reported Aden Raj, director of Jesuit Refugee Services. «They left the Sudanese camps because of hunger and the very difficult conditions of life, caused by two months of lack of food.»

In recent days, relief groups are distributing double rations in KajuKeji, officials said.

AMREF-Italy, the African Foundation for Medicine and Research, has referred to the difficulties faced by nongovernmental organizations that try to help the civilian population in southern Sudan, in sight of the Khartoum army´s attacks. The Islamic government has been attacking non-Muslim civilians in the south.

AMREF reports a health emergency under way. «There are only 10 doctors and 10 hospitals, of which only six are functional, although they are in a deplorable state,» directors of the group said in a statement Monday in Rome. «This is a chronic disaster that calls for adequate, long-term answers.»

In the southern region of Bahr El-Ghazal, there are four doctors, two dentists, three eye doctors, one technician and two lab assistants, for a population of 3 million inhabitants, AMREF stressed.

«Southern Sudan would need at least 360 brave medical assistants,» said Joseph Mwamisi, AMREF director of the Sudan project. «Instead, there are only about 80, all older than 60, and without any professional updating for at least 20 years.»

AMREF-Italy hopes to respond to this need, the directors said at the press conference, by training 60 medical assistants every year in the Maridi formation center, a few kilometers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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