February 14, 2014 (NIMULE) – South Sudanese who have been displaced during the recent conflict and sought sought protection in the town of Nimule in Eastern Equatoria state have denounced local government orders to relocate to Kapeota or risk being denied food from aid agencies.
- Internally displaced persons from the conflict in South Sudan who are living makeshift structures and under trees in Melijo 19 km South of Nimule on Friday 14 February 2014. (Photo ST)
Eastern Equatoria state government has ordered the internally displaced people (IDPs) to relocate Kapeota instead of being resettled in the Nimule area, officials say.
The South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) has instructed international and local NGOs to halt food distribution until the IDPs agree to move to Kapeota, a local official said on Thursday.
"We are under the state [government], so there is restriction that no distribution will be allowed until further notice," said Salva Ben, the head of the SSRRC in Magwi county.
Speaking by phone from Torit, Eastern Equatoria’s minister of information, Clement Laku Chimchim said the local government decided to ask for the transfer of IDPs from Nimule to Kapeota for security reasons.
Chimchim said he had no knowledge about the government’s instructions for NGOs to stop distributing humanitarian items.
"I am not aware of that [stopping food distribution] but what I know is that these people will have to move to Kapeota," he said.
According to SSRRC, 35,000 IDPs have been registered in Nimule since the conflict started in mid-December in Juba and spread to the three states of Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity.
Abraham Makur, who identified himself as an IDP coordinator, told Sudan Tribune on Friday that the state government’s move to relocate displaced people was unique.
"We are surprised as people,” Makur said.
"What these people need now is humanitarian assistance in terms of food and shelter but not be moved from here and there," he added.
In Melijo, about 20km south of Nimule, thousands of people have already set up makeshift shelters to protect themselves from the sun.
Abraham Deng, one of the IDPs, said he did not want to flee South Sudan for third time in his lifetime.
"I fled to Ethiopia in 1980s, then to Kenya in 1991 and now, I don’t want to go to Uganda," Deng told Sudan Tribune at the camp on Friday.
Surrounded by other elderly men and women, Deng said the government have to rescue them from hunger.
"We are angry because there is hunger. You can’t say move here to there when there is no transport and security on the way", he added.
Eastern Equatoria’s state information minister, Chimchim said local communities in Nimule are not comfortable accommodating cattle herding communities from Jonglei state.
"Communities in Nimule are farmers and there are over 81,000 cattle now in Nimule; four times the total [number of cattle] herded by local people of Nimule", Chimchim said depending on his government’s directives to relocate IDPs to Kapeota.
"People in Kapeota are the same cattle keepers like them (IDPs)", he added, referring to pastoralists communities inhibiting Kapeota, some 200km east of Nimule.