Some 55,000 head south to areas of origin ahead of Sudan's referendum

News Stories, 21 December 2010

© UNHCR/P. Wiggers
On the move in Sudan. Next month's referendum is on the minds of most people in Sudan.

KHARTOUM, Sudan, December 21 (UNHCR) Almost 55,000 southerners living in the North have made their way back to South Sudan in the past few weeks ahead of next month's key referendum on independence.

Their movement by road, rail, barge and plane has been both organized by the South Sudan government and spontaneous. Most have returned to Unity State, but Upper Nile, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Jonglei and Warrap states have also received large numbers of returnees.

"In the sprawling camps for displaced people around Khartoum, thousands of southerners are packing their belongings and waiting to leave," a UNHCR spokesman said, while adding that "the new arrivals are straining a fragile humanitarian environment."

South Sudan is already dealing with more than 215,000 internally displaced people who have been uprooted by ethnic clashes, rebel attacks or other forms of insecurity since January.

Last week, UNHCR began distributing aid to some of the 35,000 returnees in and around the town of Abyei a historic bridge between the north and south areas. These are people who came from Khartoum with the help of local authorities and they are benefitting from emergency shelter kits.

"We have also mobilized resources to respond to possible increases in humanitarian needs elsewhere, by shipping and pre-positioning essential humanitarian supplies, including in surrounding countries," the spokesman said.

At the same time, UNHCR is setting up reception centres along the way in Sudan to assist people during their journey and strengthening its presence and capacity in key southern states and counties.

Since the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement in January 2005 between the Sudanese government in Khartoum and the southern Sudan rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Army, some 2 million displaced people have returned to their communities in southern Sudan and the so-called 'Three Areas' of Abyei, Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan. Another 330,000 refugees returned from exile, most of them with the help of UNHCR.

Achieving durable solutions for these returnees remains difficult due to rising insecurity and limited access to services, livelihoods and infrastructure. UNHCR will continue to focus on the returnees and work to ensure their successful integration into southern Sudan society.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Cold, Uncomfortable and Hungry in Calais

For years, migrants and asylum-seekers have flocked to the northern French port of Calais in hopes of crossing the short stretch of sea to find work and a better life in England. This hope drives many to endure squalid, miserable conditions in makeshift camps, lack of food and freezing temperatures. Some stay for months waiting for an opportunity to stow away on a vehicle making the ferry crossing.

Many of the town's temporary inhabitants are fleeing persecution or conflict in countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Sudan and Syria. And although these people are entitled to seek asylum in France, the country's lack of accommodation, administrative hurdles and language barrier, compel many to travel on to England where many already have family waiting.

With the arrival of winter, the crisis in Calais intensifies. To help address the problem, French authorities have opened a day centre as well as housing facilities for women and children. UNHCR is concerned with respect to the situation of male migrants who will remain without shelter solutions. Photographer Julien Pebrel recently went to Calais to document their lives in dire sites such as the Vandamme squat and next to the Tioxide factory.

Cold, Uncomfortable and Hungry in Calais

International Women's Day 2013

Gender equality remains a distant goal for many women and girls around the world, particularly those who are forcibly displaced or stateless. Multiple forms of discrimination hamper their enjoyment of basic rights: sexual and gender-based violence persists in brutal forms, girls and women struggle to access education and livelihoods opportunities, and women's voices are often powerless to influence decisions that affect their lives. Displaced women often end up alone, or as single parents, battling to make ends meet. Girls who become separated or lose their families during conflict are especially vulnerable to abuse.

On International Women's Day, UNHCR reaffirms its commitment to fight for women's empowerment and gender equality. In all regions of the world we are working to support refugee women's participation and leadership in camp committees and community structures, so they can assume greater control over their lives. We have also intensified our efforts to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence, with a focus on emergencies, including by improving access to justice for survivors. Significantly, we are increasingly working with men and boys, in addition to women and girls, to bring an end to dangerous cycles of violence and promote gender equality.

These photographs pay tribute to forcibly displaced women and girls around the world. They include images of women and girls from some of today's major displacement crises, including Syria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Sudan.

International Women's Day 2013

The resilience and dignity of refugees in South Sudan

Since September 2011, more than 100,000 Sudanese refugees have fled bombing raids and fighting in their home country and taken refuge in South Sudan's Upper Nile state. Hosted in four refugee camps in Maban County, they face tough living conditions that have worsened during the rainy season. Staff from the UN refugee agency share some of their hardship in one of the most remote and difficult to access areas of South Sudan.

Grateful for the life-saving assistance they receive from the UN refugee agency and its humanitarian partners, the refugees are an example of the extraordinary resilience humans are capable of. The following photographs, taken by UNHCR staff, show the conditions in which they live during a daily battle to maintain their dignity and hope.

The resilience and dignity of refugees in South Sudan

South Sudan: Helping the Most VulnerablePlay video

South Sudan: Helping the Most Vulnerable

UNHCR comes to the assistance of older, disabled and sickly Sudanese refugees arriving in Yusuf Batil Camp.
Sudan: A Perilous RoutePlay video

Sudan: A Perilous Route

Kassala camp in eastern Sudan provides shelter to thousands of refugees from Eritrea. Many of them pass through the hands of ruthless and dangerous smugglers.
Sudan: Heading for a New HomePlay video

Sudan: Heading for a New Home

UNHCR is offering to help move hundreds of people from Sudan to newly independent South Sudan, where they will build new lives. Almost 250 families with ties to the south are waiting for a ride.