May 8, 2014 (JUBA) – At least 67,400 South Sudanese have fled the ongoing conflict in to Sudan with a 5,000 surge in their numbers last week, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), said.
- The AU said implementation of the ceasefire agreement was necessary to help improve the humanitarian situation for thousands of people displaced by fighting (Photo: UNHCR/F. Noy)
This recent influx, the agency said, was related to an increase in fighting in various parts of South Sudan between the warring parties.
Sudan’s Commissioner for Refugees (COR) reported last week that it started registering South Sudanese refugees who fled the conflict in Upper Nile state into Ed Damazine in Sudan’s Blue Nile state.
“So far, COR has registered 550 people, mainly women and children who arrived in Ed Damazine town and settled with their extended family”, said UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“These newly arrived people have yet to receive humanitarian assistance”, it stressed.
According to UNHCR, the onset of the rainy season poses the biggest challenges, including major logistical issues in all areas that have received arrivals, in particular White Nile, which currently holds approximately half of the total of people who fled to Sudan since mid-December 2013.
The new arrivals in to Sudan reportedly come with few if any possessions, having either sold them or had them stolen during flight.
“Children are arriving with malnutrition rates over the emergency threshold. Ensuring that people have adequate access to food and supplementary feeding, healthcare and other basic services is of paramount importance”, OCHA emphasised.
On Tuesday, UNHCR reported a sharp rise in the number of refugees fleeing South Sudan’s conflict, after government forces captured rebel-held Nasir in the Greater Upper Nile region over the weekend.
"In the past 72 hours, over 11,000 people have crossed into the Ethiopian town of Burubiey, a small remote community on the shores of the Baro River which marks the border between the two countries," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards remarked.
"The refugees tell us that more people are on their way, with many amassed on the South Sudanese side of the border waiting to cross the river on one of the few small ferry boats. The newly arrived refugees, all ethnic Nuers, report thousands more are fleeing Nasir [some 30 kilometres from the border]," he added.
The refugees are reportedly being registered on arrival and given basic medical and nutritional care plus relief items at a reception centre opened last week by UNHCR and Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA).
UNHCR and its partners, including ARRA and the Ethiopian Red Cross Society, are reportedly scaling up their responses to meet the surge in new arrivals, some of them in urgent need of medical help, and to ease the crowded conditions.
"Thousands of people are still waiting to be registered, and we are moving staff from the nearby Leitchuor refugee camp to Burubiey to help, while giving priority to people with urgent health and nutrition needs”, Edwards said.
“We are also working on flying additional staff and relief items to the area”, he added.
Once registered, refugees are being reportedly moved to Kule refugee camp, which lies some 250 km to the east. It is said to be hosting up to 40,000 refugees.
“Heavy rains are expected any time and this will make the relocation of refugees from Burubiey challenging”, OCHA observed.
Meanwhile, the inter-agency appeal for the South Sudanese refugee crisis remains dramatically underfunded, with only 14 per cent of the requested US$370 million reportedly received.