An unexploded bomb sticks out of the earth. Foxholes have been dug by aid workers fearing more air strikes from Sudan. Streams of hungry refugees are pouring in.

The Yida camp near the militarised Sudan-South Sudan border now holds 31,000 Nuba refugees — almost double the number of less than two months ago. And the camp is bracing for thousands more, just before seasonal rains could choke off food supplies that are driven in on the roughest of dirt roads.

Back in their homeland, the refugees have been enduring bombardment from Sudanese warplanes and a crisis-level food shortage they blame on Sudan's President. Aid groups say Sudan — a mostly Arab nation — is intentionally trying to starve the African residents of the Nuba Mountains.

The latest arrivals say that in the Nuba Mountains on Sudan's side of the world's newest border people are eating leaves and roots. Food long ago ran out, and many have now eaten even all of their seeds meant for planting.

The new arrivals walk within 20 metres of an unexploded bomb dropped by a Sudanese aircraft in November that landed where the road from the north comes into the camp.

The newest arrivals, who tried to complete the four- or five-day trek before the onset of six-month rains that will turn the ground to deep mud, are in bad shape. Stick-thin children are fed emergency rations. Refugees say people, mostly the young and old, back home are dying.

“There's no food where we live, but people are eating the leaves of trees. Every morning they go to the bush to collect leaves. There is also a root of a tree that if you soak it for five days and then boil it is edible,” said Amira Tia, who arrived at the camp last week after walking in green flip flops for four days with her four children.

Sudan does not allow aid from U.N. or international groups to be delivered to Nuba, and no official assessments have been done about the conditions there.

Geoffrey Pinnock, the World Food Programme's emergency officer in Yida, fears that unknown.

“What we hear from refugees is that things are bad and getting worse,” he said while walking through the camp. “Some people haven't had solid food in two months and then walk five days.”

Muniara Kamal walked for six days to reach Nuba while carrying her nine-month-old girl, Safa, who wore a red sweatshirt with white hearts and swatted away flies while getting medical care. Tia said the group she was walking with was attacked by Antonov bombers twice. One man was cut in half by shrapnel, she said.

When South Sudan voted to break away from Sudan last year after decades of war, the people of the Nuba Mountains were caught in the middle.

They are African, like the south, and not Arab like the north. Now a full-on war is under way in their homeland.

Even once they reach the relative safety of the camp, the threat of war remains. South Sudan's military is on alert in case recent border skirmishes with Sudan escalate into a full-scale conflict.

The rate of new arrivals has risen rapidly in recent days. Aid workers and Nuba leaders say 15,000 or even 30,000 more Nuba could reach Yida in coming weeks.

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