South Sudan: More than 300 refugees share a single water tap, as transit centres swell to three times their capacity, increasing risk of cholera – Oxfam

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The influx of over half a million people fleeing Sudan’s conflict mean that transit centres in Renk – a border town in neighbouring South Sudan – have swelled to three times their capacity, with more than 300 people sharing one water tap. The severe over-crowding combined with the imminent rainy season and the lack of clean water and sanitation increases the risk of a cholera outbreak, Oxfam warned today.  

Approximately 1500 people are arriving every day from Sudan to the transit centres and nearly 15,000 people are now sheltering in two centres designed to host only 4,750 people.  Of these, one third (5000 people) are living in the open with no access to clean water or proper hygiene. 

Even prior to the current conflict, there were 1,027 cases of cholera in South Sudan.

Oxfam in South Sudan Country Director, Dr. Manenji Mangundu, said:    

“In Renk people are crammed in shelters in horrifying conditions. Many have to queue for hours for clean water or to use a toilet. Without an immediate injection of funds, the situation will explode into a full-blown catastrophe, leaving many more people at risk of diseases and going hungry. 

“The upcoming rainy season in April will cut off major roads hampering vital aid and further limit people’s transportation to shelters.” 

Over 80 per cent of the population in South Sudan – four out of five people - are already in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Overlapping crises including five years of floods and conflicts in some parts of the country have devastated the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.  

Bibiana Peter, a mother of five who was forced to flee her home in Sudan and is now living in Transit Centre - 2 in Renk, said: 

“The hunger is unbearable. My children eat only once a day if they are lucky. Their meal is a small bowl of lentils for the entire day, as I watch them suffer from malnutrition. I need to walk deep into the forest for firewood, facing multiple hazards such as snakes and the risk of being attacked. If I'm lucky I sell firewood to buy a little food and if not, we sleep hungry and in the open leading to diseases and insecurity.”  

In the lean season from April to July 2024 food stocks will hit their lowest level, compounding the already dire situation. Over seven million people in South Sudan are at risk of extreme hunger – while the number of people facing catastrophic levels of hunger has more than doubled to 79,000. 

Despite a surge in the number of people fleeing the conflict in Sudan, and the worsening humanitarian catastrophe, funding has dwindled to an unprecedented low. The UN appeal for South Sudan in 2023 was slashed by half compared to previous years. Since the beginning of this year, less than four per cent of $1.79 billion UN 2024 appeal has been raised severely curtailed humanitarian efforts to respond to the crisis. 

Mangundu said: “With major global crises attracting attention, the crisis in South Sudan is forgotten. But the world must not turn a blind eye. We are racing against time but funding cuts are stretching our capacity to the limit and are a recipe for disaster. Every day of delayed action means irreversible harm to a population that already suffered years of devastation and destitution.”   

The UK government has committed to £7.75 million for South Sudan to help those fleeing the conflict in Sudan. This is welcome but much more is needed to tackle the hunger crisis that refugees, many of whom children, are experiencing. 

Oxfam, together with partners, is providing clean water and sanitation to over 70,000 people in the transit camps, but urgently needs $7 million to ramp up its humanitarian response and provide 400,000 people with lifesaving food, clean water and sanitation.  


Contact information:

Zara Sarvarian, Press Officer Oxfam GB, 07584265077

Notes to editors:

  • Please see the below link to pictures and a video from Renk:
  • The current capacity of Renk Transit Centres (Both Old and Extension - commonly referred to as TC1 and TC2 respectively) is 4,750. Transit Centre Extension with a capacity of 2750 individuals currently hosts nearly 15,000 individuals (five times its design holding capacity) 
  • The  2024 Humanitarian Needs and Response Plan for South Sudan indicates that 9 million people will need humanitarian aid in South Sudan including more than 1.6 million children who are at risk of acute malnutrition. 
  • The IPC South Sudan Acute Food Insecurity Malnutrition Sep2023 July2024 report found that 5.83 million people (46% of the population) are currently facing crisis and worse levels of hunger (IPC 3+) which is set to increase to 7.1 million during the lean season starting in April 2024. 
  • South Sudan’s Humanitarian Response Plan was 51.4% funded in 2023 according to OCHA Financial Tracking Service (FTS). In 2024, the Humanitarian Needs and Response Plan is only 3.6% funded (as at 27 February 2024).  
  • UNOCHA FTS funding levels for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 show that 2023 was comparatively the lowest funding provided in proportion to the needs. In 2023, the $1.05 billion raised is less funding than raised in any single year between 2014 and 2022. 

Press contact

For comments, interviews, or information please contact Zara Sarvarian (Press Officer):