January 31, 2012 (JUBA) – At least 300 refugees from Sudan’s South Kordofan are crossing the border into Yida, South Sudan’s largest refugee camp, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said.
The influx of refugees, it says, calls for creation of new sites away from the “volatile” border area where Yida, currently hosting an estimated 61,000 Sudanese refugees, is located. The move, it added, seeks to ensure the safety of the refugees and maintain the civilian character of the settlement.
However, while a new site was chosen in South Sudan’s Unity State for one such settlement, UNHCR says it plans to open other camps in the state in order to settle these people.
About 20,000 people, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says, were in January displaced, following renewed fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N), which intensified in October last year.
Meanwhile, over 67,000 displaced people, according to IOM and the government-initiated Voluntary Return and Resettlement Commission (VRRC), were registered in 13 localities of South Kodofan between January and November 2012.
“IOM, in collaboration with the VRRC and with support from HAC [Humanitarian Aid Commission] in South Kordofan, is currently collating and verifying the number of returnees to South Kordofan following the October clashes,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) says in its 21-27 January bulletin.
In addition, VRRC say it estimates that over 160,000 people from South Kordofan remain displaced in neighbouring states within Sudan.
Absence of a proper framework to provide overall guidance to planning and implementation of return assistance, IOM maintains, is a major setback to emergency assistance provision in South Kordofan.
In a related development, amnesty international has expressed concerns over the plight of people facing the brunt of conflict in Sudan’s conflict region.
Alex Neve, the Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada, who visited South Kordofan, last week, said the bombings of innocent civilians in the region by Sudanese government forces violates international humanitarian law.
“There is absolutely no doubt that this indefensible bombing campaign violates international humanitarian law – the repeated indiscriminate air attacks, as well as possibly direct attacks on civilians, by the Sudanese armed forces, constitute war crimes. So why does it attract so little international attention?” he asked.
Neve, in an article published on Amnesty’s global human rights blog, also wondered why the UN Security Council resolutions only “urge and encourage but do not condemn and deplore” the negative things happening in South Kordofan.
"The Sudanese government plays games with UN, African Union and other officials, promising that aid access will open up, but consistently failing to follow through.”
He describes the Sudanese government’s “cruel” refusal to allow independent humanitarian access to this area as part of the tripartite arrangement, as an action “beyond measure”.