April 11, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The United Nations agency for refugees (UNHCR) has expressed fears for the safety of Sudanese refugees and aid workers in a camp in Sudan Sudan’s Unity state after unidentified aircraft were seen flying over the settlement.
- New arrivals wait in line to register with the UNHCR at the Yida refugee camp along the Sudan-South Sudan border on 3 July 2012 (Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
“UNHCR is deeply concerned about the safety of refugees and aid workers in Yida, South Sudan, after unidentified aircraft circled over the settlement several times on 9 April,” said UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming at a press conference in Geneva on Friday
“The sighting raised fears that the refugee settlement may soon come under direct or indirect military attack,” she added.
On 7 April, Neem, located 26km north of Yida, and close to the disputed border area of Jau, was bombed by warplanes. Local authorities said more than five bombs were dropped.
Fleming said the refugees have not been “directly affected this week’s attack”.
South Sudanese officials and Sudanese rebels have accused the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of carrying out the recent attacks in border areas, however, Khartoum denies penetrating the territory of its southern neighbour.
Local authorities reported that on 7 April a military aircraft dropped more than five bombs over Neem, which is on the road that refugees use when coming from the war-torn Nuba Mountains in Sudan.
The Sudanese official accuses the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) of using refugee camps in South Sudan, particularly the Yida settlement which is located near the border.
In March the UN opened a new camp far from the disputed border in Ajuong Thok, but many refugees have refused to relocate voluntarily.
Yida, which is home to some 70,000 refugees, was bombed by the Sudanese army in November 2011.
There are about 540,000 Sudanese refugees in the troubled Unity and Upper Nile states where the South Sudanese government is fighting a rebellion led by the former vice-president, Riek Machar.