January 10, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - The head of Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) said on Friday they had started the implementation of presidential directives to treat South Sudanese refugees as Sudanese nationals.
- South Sudanese refugees wait on a truck in Koboko, Uganda, on 6 January 2014 to be transported to the Arua district settlement camp (Photo: AFP/Isaac Kasamani)
Suleiman Abdel Rahman in statements to the official radio station said that a small number of South Sudanese refugees arrived to South Kordofan state, stressing "they are treated as bothers and not refugees".
According to Abdel Rahman, 168 South Sudanese reached Alliry area in South Kordofan, coming from the Upper Nile state, "most of them are women and children", he added.
South Sudanese continue to flee their country, heading to Uganda and Kenya where the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP) have established camps to receive them as refugees and provide them humanitarian assistance.
Following a meeting on Monday with his South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir, Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir said they had agreed to open the border for people affected by the ongoing conflict in neighbouring states.
He further emphasised there would not be any refugees camps established, but in line with the four freedoms agreement, they will be allowed to move freely and settle in any part of Sudan after receiving the necessary support from the humanitarian authorities.
Following the alleged role of humanitarian groups in the Darfur conflict, particularly the accusations they had reported alleged atrocities to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Khartoum imposes heavy restrictions on the activities of aid groups and has banned their presence in conflict areas.
Sudanese officials pledged not to intervene in the ongoing conflict in South Sudan between the government of president Kiir and rebels led by former vice-president Riek Machar.
Khartoum also denied reports about the deployment of a joint force along the border between the two countries, saying the statements attributed to foreign minister Ali Karti were misunderstood.
Commenting on Bashir’s visit to Juba, US state department spokesperson Jek Psaki said last Tuesday that the Sudanese government is not involved in the South Sudanese crisis.
“We don’t – also don’t have any indication that Sudan is playing a negative role in the current political crisis in South Sudan. (...) I don’t have more details on that, but from our reports from the ground, we don’t have an indication they’re playing a negative role as they work toward peace talks”, she said.