UNHCR worry over civilians displaced by fighting in South Sudan's Jonglei

Briefing Notes, 11 June 2013

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 11 June 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The UN refugee agency is alarmed by the fighting that has been on-going in Jonglei State, South Sudan since March between government troops and armed groups. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced. In Pibor County in particular, we have seen increasing tension and serious allegations of a break-down in law and order, evidenced among other things by indiscriminate abuses and looting of civilian property. Most of Pibor County's 148,000 people are affected and many have been displaced more than once by the hostilities. Many people have fled into the bush, into areas that are hard to reach.

The security constraints have made it difficult for us to monitor the situation and to respond to humanitarian needs. Finding and reaching people affected by fighting in Jonglei is a major concern. When we get access, we have been conducting border monitoring missions to assess population movements and we are sharing this information with neighbouring countries.

Many civilians are walking long distances to find sanctuary in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia.

In the first five months of this year, we registered 5,397 refugees from Jonglei State at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. These numbers are significant: this is approaching the total that arrived there in all of last year and is more than double the number who arrived in 2011 or 2010.

In Uganda, some 2,700 refugees from Jonglei State have arrived since the beginning of the year, averaging about 527 per month.

The recent fighting in Pibor has resulted in an influx into Ethiopia, but on a smaller scale than some recent reports have suggested. Around 16,000 people arrived mainly between February 2012 and February 2013 before the most recent fighting. UNHCR assessment teams have just returned from the border inside Ethiopia where they established the arrival of 2,178 refugees between 7 May and 7 June. Some new arrivals reported that more people were on their way to Ethiopia from the Nyalongoro, Kaiwa and Niate areas of South Sudan.

In South Sudan, we are working both in Jonglei State and at the national level to advocate for better protection of displaced people. As part of the humanitarian community, we are engaging with the government, UNMISS (the United Nations Mission in South Sudan), key members of the diplomatic community and other stakeholders at different levels to ensure protection of civilians and improved humanitarian access.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Nairobi: Kitty McKinsey on mobile +254 735 337 608
  • In Geneva: Fati Lejeune-Kaba on mobile +41 79 249 3483
• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

A Time Between: Moving on from Internal Displacement in Uganda

This document examines the situation of IDPs in Acholiland in northern Uganda, through the stories of individuals who have lived through conflict and displacement.

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

A Refugee Settlement Rises Again in Northern Uganda

Fighting in South Sudan between government troops and rival forces since December has displaced tens of thousands of people, many of whom have sought shelter at temporary transit and reception centres just inside northern Uganda. The UN refugee agency has since early January reopened three former refugee settlements and moved an estimated 50,000 to these sites deeper inside Uganda, where it is easier to provide them with protection and assistance. After being taken by truck to one such settlement, Nyumanzi I, lying some 30 kilometres from the border, the new arrivals are given relief items such as food, blankets, mats and kitchenware as well as a plot of land from the government on which to build a shelter. The settlement has been filling up quickly. UNHCR and partners have been working around the clock to build roads, install water distribution networks and provide access to health care. By early February, homes and small shops had sprung up across the settlement as the South Sudanese got on with their lives while closely monitoring the situation back home in the hope of one day returning.

A Refugee Settlement Rises Again in Northern Uganda

Matiop's First Days as a Refugee in Uganda

After fighting engulfed his hometown of Bor in South Sudan last December, Matiop Atem Angang fled with his extended family of 15 - including his 95-year-old mother, his six children and his sister's family. They left the capital of Jonglei state, one of the areas worst affected by the violence of the last two months. A one-week journey by boat and truck brought them to safety in neighbouring Uganda.

At the border, Matiop's large family was taken to a UNHCR-run transit centre, Dzaipi, in the northern district of Adjumani. But with thousands of South Sudanese refugees arriving every day, the facility quickly became overcrowded. By mid-February, the UN refugee agency had managed to transfer refugees to their own plots of land where they will be able to live until it is safe for them to go home. Uganda is one of very few countries that allow refugees to live like local citizens. These photos follow Matiop through the process of registering as a refugee in Uganda - an experience he shares with some 70,000 of his compatriots.

Matiop's First Days as a Refugee in Uganda

Displacement in South Sudan: A Camp Within a Camp

In the three weeks since South Sudan erupted in violence, an estimated 200,000 South Sudanese have found themselves displaced within their own country. Some 57,000 have sought sanctuary at bases of UN peace-keepers across the country. These photos by UNHCR's Senior Regional Public Information Officer Kitty McKinsey give a glimpse of the daily life of the 14,000 displaced people inside the UN compound known locally as Tong Ping, near the airport in Juba, South Sudan's capital. Relief agencies, including UNHCR, are rallying to bring shelter, blankets and other aid items, but in the first days, displaced people had to fend for themselves. The compounds have taken on all the trappings of small towns, with markets, kiosks, garbage collection and public bathing facilities. Amazingly, children still manage to smile and organize their own games with the simplest of materials.

Displacement in South Sudan: A Camp Within a Camp

South Sudan: Food Security Play video

South Sudan: Food Security

Jacob is plowing 20 kilometers far from his own home town, Bor, after having to abandon it due to the ongoing fighting in South Sudan. Now in Mingkaman camp,as a displaced person, this land he plows is all he has after losing farm and cattle back home
Canada: Light Years Ahead
Play video

Canada: Light Years Ahead

With help from the Government of Canada, lives of refugees in Chad and Ethiopia have been transformed through the Light Years Ahead project.
Ethiopia: South Sudanese Refugee InfluxPlay video

Ethiopia: South Sudanese Refugee Influx

Despite a ceasefire agreement signed in early May, fighting continues between government and opposition forces in South Sudan. The renewed conflict has forced thousands of refugees to seek shelter in Ethiopia.