UNHCR steps up aid in South Sudan camp as population tops 35,000

Making a Difference, 25 May 2012

© UNHCR/V.Tan
UNHCR's help desk in Yida issues food distribution tokens to Sudanese refugees who have lost theirs.

JUBA, South Sudan, May 25 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency is expanding aid operations for refugees in South Sudan's Yida camp, whose population has swollen to more than 35,000 people.

People arriving at Yida cite worsening security and humanitarian conditions in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, where they fled from.

An average of 430 refugees have been arriving daily throughout May, an almost 50 per cent increase over the arrival rate in April. "At this rate, the camp population will exceed 40,000 by the end of the month," a UNHCR spokesperson said.

Yida remains an unsafe location for refugees because of its proximity to the border. While efforts to encourage refugees to voluntarily move away from the border will continue, aid will be boosted to improve conditions as the rainy season is starting.

Over the past two weeks, UNHCR has conducted distributions of plastic sheets, mosquito nets, sleeping mats and blankets to more than 12,700 people. Distribution is continuing.

"Initially, priority was given to the most vulnerable such as the elderly, unaccompanied minors and female-headed households. We are now expanding this to all refugees," the spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, said.

Many refugees have been arriving in poor condition, after a journey through dense bush. Most enter South Sudan via the disputed Jau border area, their only escape route to Yida. They travel on foot with the few possessions they are able to carry.

People are hungry and there are increasing signs of malnutrition among new arrivals from the Nuba mountains in Sudan's South Kordofan state.

Upon arriving in Yida, refugees are registered and immediately provided with water and high energy biscuits. A medical screening follows after which they receive an initial two-week World Food Programme food ration. Aid agencies provide urgent medical attention and therapeutic feeding.

Further west, in Upper Nile state, UNHCR is also facing challenges. "Our colleagues have seen some 12,000 Sudanese refugees who crossed the border from Blue Nile state since the weekend. This brings the total number of refugees in Upper Nile state to over 80,000," Fleming noted.

The new arrivals are exhausted from having walked for several days. They fled from Blue Nile citing hunger as well as continuing fighting between the Sudanese armed forces and Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). Many became separated from family members.

UNHCR has relocated 1,285 refugees to the newly established camp at Yusuf Batil, 120 kilometres from the border. Yusuf Batil is the third refugee settlement that UNHCR has helped set up in Upper Nile, after Doro and Jamam. Others are also being relocated to Jamam.

UNHCR's relocation convoys can take up to four hours to cover a 20 kilometre stretch, and the refugees on board have to spend the night in Jamam. The road conditions are expected to deteriorate during the rainy season, making the journey more difficult or access to refugees even impossible.

With the rapidly growing refugee population, UNHCR is also concerned about the low water availability in Upper Nile state and the associated health risks. To address any possible outbreak of water-related diseases in the area, UNHCR and its partners have pre-positioned medical supplies and treatment units in each settlement. The agency is also trucking in water and drilling boreholes.

South Sudan is currently hosting more than 115,000 Sudanese refugees from the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. Another 32,500 have found shelter in western Ethiopia from Blue Nile.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Internally Displaced People

The internally displaced seek safety in other parts of their country, where they need help.

South Sudan Crisis: Urgent Appeal

Donate now and help to provide emergency aid to tens of thousands of people fleeing South Sudan to escape violence.

Donate to this crisis

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Bonga Camp, Ethiopia

Bonga camp is located in the troubled Gambella region of western Ethiopia. But it remains untouched by the ethnic conflicts that have torn nearby Gambella town and Fugnido camp in the last year.

For Bonga's 17,000 Sudanese refugees, life goes on despite rumblings in the region. Refugee children continue with school and play while their parents make ends meet by supplementing UNHCR assistance with self-reliance projects.

Cultural life is not forgotten, with tribal ceremonies by the Uduk majority. Other ethnic communities – Shuluks, Nubas and Equatorians – are welcome too, judging by how well hundreds of newcomers have settled in after their transfer from Fugnido camp in late 2002.

Bonga Camp, Ethiopia

Southerners on the move before Sudanese vote

Ahead of South Sudan's landmark January 9, 2011 referendum on independence, tens of thousands of southern Sudanese in the North packed their belongings and made the long trek south. UNHCR set up way stations at key points along the route to provide food and shelter to the travellers during their arduous journey. Several reports of rapes and attacks on travellers reinforced the need for these reception centres, where women, children and people living with disabilities can spend the night. UNHCR has made contingency plans in the event of mass displacement after the vote, including the stockpiling of shelter and basic provisions for up to 50,000 people.

Southerners on the move before Sudanese vote

South Sudan: Preparing for Long-Awaited Returns

The signing of a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the army of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement on 9 January, 2005, ended 21 years of civil war and signaled a new era for southern Sudan. For some 4.5 million uprooted Sudanese – 500,000 refugees and 4 million internally displaced people – it means a chance to finally return home.

In preparation, UNHCR and partner agencies have undertaken, in various areas of South Sudan, the enormous task of starting to build some basic infrastructure and services which either were destroyed during the war or simply had never existed. Alongside other UN agencies and NGOs, UNHCR is also putting into place a wide range of programmes to help returnees re-establish their lives.

These programs include road construction, the building of schools and health facilities, as well as developing small income generation programmes to promote self-reliance.

South Sudan: Preparing for Long-Awaited Returns

South Sudan Crisis: One Year OnPlay video

South Sudan Crisis: One Year On

Uganda: A Father's TroublesPlay video

Uganda: A Father's Troubles

Forty-five-year-old Gabriel fled South Sudan with his wife and children to find safety in the UN compound in Bor. But, in April 2014, his wife was killed when an armed mob forced their way in, and now he is a single father to five children, seeking a better life in Uganda.
South Sudan: Adut's strugglePlay video

South Sudan: Adut's struggle

Thousands in war-torn South Sudan have lost their homes and livelihoods. When seventeen year old Adut lost her parents, she also lost her childhood by taking on the role of mom and dad for her young siblings. But, despite the everyday struggle, she is finding new skills and new hope in exile.