Hundreds flee fresh violence on Sudan-South Sudan border
GENEVA, March 6 (UNHCR) - Hundreds of people have been fleeing to South Sudan's Upper Nile state and western Ethiopia to escape renewed fighting in disputed border areas between Sudan and South Sudan.
Last week, UNHCR staff registered 2,287 new arrivals in the Doro and Jammam refugee sites in Upper Nile, bringing to more than 80,000 the total number of registered refugees in this region.
UNHCR spokeswoman Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba told journalists in Geneva that the refugees were crossing into South Sudan from Sudan's troubled Blue Nile state. "They say they fled because of bombardments and the fear of more violence," she said.
In western Ethiopia, UNHCR staff are also seeing a steady flow of new arrivals, mainly from Blue Nile state. "We are working at establishing a third camp to accommodate the growing Sudanese influx into Ethiopia," Lejeune-Kaba said, adding: "The new camp is located in Bambasi and will have the capacity to house up to 20,000 refugees when it is completed later this month."
Since June 2011, heavy fighting between the Sudanese armed forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states has driven tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees into Ethiopia and South Sudan. UNHCR is expecting further arrivals into these two countries because refugees are reporting that many more communities are on the move in Blue Nile.
Meanwhile, the security situation remains precarious in the other disputed border area between South Sudan's Unity state and Sudan's Southern Kordofan. Bombing was reported on February 29 along the western border of Pariang County and three days earlier in the Lake Jau area. "We are extremely concerned about the safety of people in the nearby Yida refugee settlement, which hosts 16,022 Sudanese," said Lejeune-Kaba said.
In November last year bombs hit Yida, located in Unity state. In Upper Nile state, further east, bombs also fell in January on a transit centre for refugees at Elfoj, which at the time was hosting 4,000 people.
"UNHCR is continuing to transfer refugees away from volatile border areas to refugee sites we have established at safer distances from the fighting. The UNHCR-built sites allow for provision of food, clean water, health care and shelter as well as critical services in education and agriculture production," Lejeune-Kaba said
Newly independent South Sudan now hosts more than 100,000 registered Sudanese refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Western Ethiopia has so far registered more than 30,000, mainly from Blue Nile.
By Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba