September 4, 2016 (JUBA) - The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has, in coordination with local authorities and South Sudan’s Commission for Refugee Affairs, opened a new refugee camp in the northern part of the country’s oil-rich Unity state.
- 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)
The new facility, the UNHCR said in a statement, will provide better protection and services to Sudanese refugees relocating from Yida settlement and new arrivals from the war-torn Nuba Mountains.
The new camp, some 80 km south of the contested border with Sudan, it further said, is ready to accommodate up to 20,000 people at the moment. UNHCR and partners have so far demarcated 5,000 family plots, built a primary school and a health care centre.
“Drinking water is available through a sun-powered water pumping system and teachers are on site to start classes as soon as the school term resumes,” partly reads the agency’s statement issued Sunday.
“Our aim is to ensure that refugees access to quality services according to international standards, but our long-term strategy is to provide them with the tools and means that enable them to become more self-reliant and less dependent on humanitarian assistance,” said UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner George Okoth-Obbo.
“This means boosting education, investing in agriculture and skill development opportunities,” he added.
According to the agency, in addition to hosting the newly opened refugee camp in Pamir, northern Unity state has two other refugee settlements: Yida, right next to the contested border with Sudan, with a population of 59,000 people and Ajuong Thok, home to more than 40,000 refugees. The latter camp, it said, has received some 10,000 new arrivals from South Kordofan in first eight months of 2016 as well as more than 4,400 refugees who had previously registered in Yida.
“With Ajuong Thok at full capacity, we had no option but opening a new camp,” said Okoth-Obbo.
“We cannot thank enough the authorities and communities of South Sudan for being so generous and hospitable to the refugees. Without their support, we never would have been able to extend protection and assistance to refugees in the first place,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, the governor of Northern Unity state, Mayol Kur Akuei said that refugees and local communities have been living together peacefully for the past five years, sharing land and resources.
“We appreciate the great cooperation with UNHCR and we hope that this partnership will go a long way as to also benefit our communities, who are often in worst conditions than the refugees”, he said.
The initial development of Pamir camp, UNHCR said, was possible as a result of funds from Canada, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), Educate a Child Initiative, ECHO, Germany and the United States. Additional contributions will be required to extend development of Pamir to its full intended capacity of 52,000.
In war-torn South Sudan, UNHCR reportedly works with authorities and partners to protect and assist nearly 260,000 refugees and is also part of the multi-agency response to 1.61 million internally displaced people, as lead of the protection cluster.