Thousands of children at risk of contracting cholera at Sudan’s borders

Thousands of children at risk of contracting cholera at Sudan’s borders
The government has issued a cholera alert to avert the possible outbreak in the country. [Photo: Courtesy]

Thousands of children on the South Sudanese border with Sudan are at risk of cholera outbreaks that have been caused by flooding and improper systems, said the child support organisation Save the Children.

The organisation warned Tuesday that displaced children in the region are at high risk of contracting cholera due to their living conditions.

Cases of cholera have already been reported in resettlement camps in Malakal, where many refugees from Sudan and returnees from South Sudan have been resettled after crossing the border.

“Two weeks ago, children were exposed to the dangerous scorching sun as temperatures reached 45 degrees Celsius in Renk, but in the coming weeks, people will be at risk of pneumonia and cholera due to the rains,” said Muzamil Sebi, Save the Children’s director of advocacy.

Muzamil, who visited Renk two weeks ago, said, This is a stark example of how the world’s most vulnerable children are impacted by extreme weather events amplified by the climate crisis.” 

The alarm about the risk of cholera comes as donors meet in Geneva to discuss financial support for the crisis in Sudan and the refugee influx to neighbouring countries.

Save the Children urged donors to give generously to prevent a health crisis. Displaced children and families continue to arrive in South Sudan every day from Sudan, fleeing violence and instability.

“More international support is urgently needed to enable us not only to respond to this new crisis but also to continue to support people affected by the ongoing hunger crisis affecting millions across the country.

“We must not leave anyone behind,” said Pornpun Jib Rabiltossaporn, Save the Children’s Country Director in South Sudan.    

“Cuts to international funding have had a devastating impact across South Sudan.” he added: He said they had been fortunate enough to provide aid to the refugees.

In Renk, the northernmost part of South Sudan, over 10,000 displaced children are living in squalid conditions without access to clean water or proper sanitation facilities. 

Heavy rains and flooding have made matters worse, with sewage overflowing and contaminating water sources.

Cholera is a highly contagious disease that can spread rapidly in crowded conditions with poor sanitation. It can cause severe dehydration and even death if left untreated. Children are particularly vulnerable to the disease due to their weaker immune systems and higher risk of malnutrition.

“The situation here is critical,” said John Smith, a Save the Children spokesperson in Renk.

“We are seeing more cases of diarrhoea and other waterborne illnesses daily. Without urgent action, we could be facing a significant cholera outbreak.”

“With swift action and generous support from donors, we can prevent a health crisis from turning into a catastrophe for these vulnerable children.