March 18, 2013 (JUBA) - An official in South Sudan’s Unity state on Sunday called for additional deployment of police forces at Yida refugee camp, citing rising insecurity in the area in recent days.
- Women who fled the crisis in South Kordofan collect water from taps in the Yida refugee camp (IRC)
Majok Gadet, the commissioner for Parieng county where the camp is situated, told Sudan Tribune that some armed elements entered the camp on Saturday and clashed with police officers deployed to protect the refugees.
He said a policeman died and 11 civilians were wounded during the incident.
“We need more police forces to be deployed immediately because we now have only 40 police providing security to a camp with 70,000 people. We also need the camp to be divided and relocated completely to the new places which have already been identified and allocated by authorities for this purpose”, Gadet said by phone.
According to Gadet, the attackers were armed with sophisticated weapons, including heavy machine guns mounted on vehicles, hand-held grenades and other explosive devices.
The commissioner has appealed to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and the South Sudanese government to expedite the relocation of the refugees, allowing effective police deployment.
He suspects the attack could have been carried out by Sudanese rebels, although he did not identify the group.
The rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on Monday distanced itself from armed men who clashed with South Sudanese police in Yida camp.
JEM spokesperson Gibreel Adam Bilal said those responsible for the attack should be probed, further underlining the rebel movement’s commitment to international humanitarian law on refugees.
Khartoum accuses Juba of harbouring JEM rebels, with Sudanese authorities recently publicising a UN report alleging that the rebel group had different bases in South Sudan, including a base in Unity, with over 800 fighters.