Hamid Yussef Bashir, 30, is one of around 37,000 refugees in Jamam camp in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State, a place beleaguered by chronic water shortages, a diet of sorghum that refugees say is not enough, and where most residents are camped on a floodplain weeks ahead of the rainy season.
Aid agencies are also battling problems of drilling enough boreholes and pre-positioning enough food before the rains come. The USA has warned of famine-like conditions in Upper Nile and neighbouring South Kordofan State in Sudan where government forces are battling rebels and Sudanese President Omar al Bashir has restricted humanitarian aid. Jamam’s population is expected to swell to up to 80,000 when food north of the border runs out, if people can make the arduous journey through battlefields and escape aerial bombardment.
Huddled next to a makeshift tent with his five children crouching round the embers of a morning fire, Hamid Yussef Bashir recounts the story of how and why he fled Sudan's war-torn Blue Nile State:
“When we see the Antonov [plane] activities we’re not really comfortable, that’s when we took the decision to leave because we were really in fear.
“When we saw the soldiers killed by the bombardment, that’s when we got scared and decided to go for hiding. A lot of people died on the way when they tried to escape. It was raining. There were no shelters, so most of them lost their lives trying to come this side.
“It took 17 days to walk here.
“We were facing hunger on the way, and that’s how other people starved to death, and with the rains, a lot of people lost their lives from pneumonia.
“The water here is not enough… People end up fighting at the water point. People stay at the long queue all day, so you end up only doing one thing and not doing any other activities - only fetching water.
“We used to have an income from goods, we used to have livestock. When we were coming here most of them died on the way, and now we are living only on sorghum.
“We don’t have anything extra to do to bring money in, so we only wait for the sorghum, nothing else. It’s not enough.
“If I go back home I will suffer, as I know there is nothing to eat. So I don’t think that I will go back, as I won’t survive.
“I only hope for the best life for my children. If they can get education and feed well that will be better for them.”