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By: Emile Dawisha

WORLD REFUGEE DAY: Sudan’s civil war collides with climate crisis in South Sudan, leaving millions displaced in malaria-endemic region

June 20, 2023
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On World Refugee Day, we reflect on the 108.4 million people worldwide who’ve been displaced by conflict, natural disasters, and other factors. These people face staggering risks – from safety and exploitation to sanitation and malnutrition – on their journey to secure better futures.

Among the most deadly, and most overlooked, threats faced by displaced populations is malaria: nearly two-thirds of refugees and internally-displaced people (IDPs) settle in malaria-endemic areas.

A wide range of crisis conditions can fuel malaria transmission and deaths, including: limited healthcare access, disrupted supply chains, densely-populated camps with poor sanitation, and an influx of people with low malaria immunity settling in a high-transmission area.


These crisis conditions have become the norm in South Sudan after several years of severe flooding – the worst the region has seen in 60 years – and prolonged violent conflict around the country. These ongoing crises have contributed to surging rates of population movement. By the end of 2022, South Sudan was home to 3.8 million refugees and IDP’s.

To learn more about the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, watch the video below.

Flooding and insecurity impact virtually all aspects of life in South Sudan, constraining access to vital aid and healthcare. The country’s vast flood plains have created ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes, in a country where malaria already accounts for 50-70% of all hospital admissions.

Throughout the country, vital roadways and airstrips have been swept away by floods, leaving countless communities cut off from markets, hospitals, and other vital services. Many parents must carry sick kids for hours, often wading through floodwaters, just to get them the urgent care they need, including malaria treatment.

Since 2021, United to Beat Malaria has partnered with UNHCR to launch malaria projects in displacement camps and host communities across northern South Sudan. These projects have helped protect nearly 500,000 people through the provision of insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying campaigns, anti-malarial treatments, rapid diagnostic tests, and other malaria interventions. We will continue working with UNHCR in this region through 2025 – a region that has recently seen an influx of refugees fleeing civil war in neighboring Sudan (see below).

Taiba is 19 years old and lives at the Batil Camp in South Sudan with her daughter. She came to the camp eleven years ago from Blue Nile, Sudan. She does not remember the journey to the camp because she was very young when her family crossed the border in search of a better life.  

Taiba and her daughter are at high risk for malaria. Severe flooding in the region has increased the mosquito population and fueled malaria transmission. United to Beat Malaria and UNHCR have partnered to deliver bed nets and other vital malaria tools to the Batil camp and several others across this border region. 


At the dawn of peak rainy season, the world’s youngest nation now faces another threat. Since April, civil war in neighboring Sudan has forced over 100,000 people to seek refuge in South Sudan. Most are settling along South Sudan’s highly volatile northern border, where intercommunal violence has overstretched the region’s humanitarian capacity – made worse by the new arrivals from Sudan.

UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are co-leading a massive response, working with the government and a host of NGO’s to support the influx of new arrivals crossing the Sudan-South Sudan border.

Per UNHCR: “Teams on the ground are providing water, communal shelters, health services, food, WASH services, core relief items, and protection services. A priority is to facilitate onward movement for new arrivals to their places of origin or destination of choice. But this is not an easy feat in South Sudan, where most travel is only possible by river or air.”

USAID and the US State Department have stepped up their support in the region as well, providing over $500 million in aid to South Sudan in Fiscal Year 2023.

United to Beat Malaria continues to support aid efforts in this border region. Since 2021, we’ve partnered with UNHCR to provide insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying campaigns, anti-malarial treatments, rapid diagnostic tests, and other malaria interventions to nearly 500,000 people living in displacement camps and host communities across northern South Sudan. We will continue working with UNHCR in this region through 2025.

United to Beat Malaria has long been committed to protecting refugees and IDP’s from malaria. In partnership with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), our campaign has helped protect over 5 million displaced people in 23 countries, through the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets, rapid diagnostic tests, anti-malarial treatments, and other tools.

To learn more about our work with refugees and IDP’s, visit


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