January 9, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - Aid agencies on the ground in the disputed region of Abyei say that between 2,000 and 2,500 people have entered the area after fleeing violence in South Sudan’s Unity state, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported.
- Thousands of refugees fleeing violence in South Sudan have crossed into neighbouring countries, including Uganda and Sudan (AP)
Most have settled in the Agok area, with a few people moving back across the border to South Sudan’s Warrap state, OCHA said in its latest humanitarian bulletin for Sudan.
The new arrivals are mostly women and children, who have taken refuge with relatives and friends.
Thousands of civilians have fled Unity state amid heavy fighting, which broke out on Wednesday between government forces and opposition soldiers in Unity state’s Mayom county.
The South Sudanese army (SPLA) is trying to retake the capital, Bentiu, from a faction of the army that defected over two weeks ago.
More than 8,000 people have taken refuge at United Nations bases in Bentiu, the UN’s top humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said on Wednesday.
Humanitarian groups, there are currently enough supplies available to meet the immediate needs of new arrivals to Abyei, an oil-producing region claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan.
In an unofficial referendum last October members of Abyei’s southern-aligned Ngok Dinka ethnic group voted overwhelmingly in favour of joining South Sudan.
POSSIBLE DARFUR INFLUX
Meanwhile, humanitarian agencies in East Darfur are preparing for a possible influx of an estimated 10,000 people from South Sudan amid reports that large numbers of South Sudanese are gathering at the border of the western Sudan region, the OCHA report said.
There have been conflicting reports over whether 6,000 South Sudanese, mostly women and children, have already crossed the border from South Sudan’s Bahr el Ghazal locality. OCHA has been unable to independently verify the reports.
OCHA said humanitarian agencies in Ed Daein remain concerned about the lack of adequate relief supplies in East Darfur, saying an influx of new arrivals would place further strain on already overstretched services in the region.
The International Organization of Migration (IOM) has confirmed that an estimated 2,700 people have already arrived in Sudan’s South Kordofan state, the vast majority of whom are nomads.
According to the IOM, 924 people have taken refuge in El Leri town, with a further 950 moving to Talodi and 800 to El Amira town.
The UN estimates that at least 200,000 people have been displaced since fighting broke out in the South Sudan capital, Juba, on 15 December between rival members of the presidential guards, quickly spreading to other parts of the country.
According to the UN, the refugee exodus continues to gather momentum, with thousands fleeing to neighbouring countries everyday.