United Nations press release
UNHCR fears effect of Sudan border insecurity on refugee safety in Yida
News Stories, 27 March 2012
Sudanese refugees at the Yida settlement in South Sudan.
JUBA, South Sudan, March 27 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency said
Tuesday that recurrent fighting in the Lake Jau border area is making
it increasingly worried about the safety of Sudanese refugees in nearby
"Our concerns are heightened by clashes reported yesterday
between the national armies of Sudan and South Sudan in Lake Jau and
other border areas," UNHCR's chief spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, told
journalists in Geneva.
She added that UNHCR was in regular discussion with refugee leaders in
the South Sudan settlement of Yida about "the urgent need to relocate
in order to avoid civilian casualties among a population that has
already endured a great deal of trauma."
Together with various partners, UNHCR is providing basic assistance to
more than 16,000 refugees who settled in Yida after fleeing violence in
the Nuba Mountains. UNHCR provides relief support to vulnerable
families. In February, it carried out a full registration of the
population as well as a nutrition survey and a comprehensive measles
vaccination campaign for refugee children.
The World Food Programme distributes standard food rations and the food
pipeline is operating well. Médecins Sans Frontières and CARE run
health services while Samaritan's Purse and the International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC) provide clean water and sanitation facilities.
"UNHCR considers that Yida refugee settlement is not safe for long-term
stay due to its proximity to the volatile border zone," Fleming said,
while noting that the South Sudan authorities at central and local
level were also urging refugee leaders to relocate.
Refugee leaders say they prefer to stay close to their homes in the
Nuba Mountains. Also, they are accustomed to the Yida landscape. But
security hazards are a grim reality.
"We cannot ignore the fact that Yida is near a heavily militarized zone
with recurrent fighting and bombing. Yida itself came under aerial
attack in November last year, causing refugees to flee into the bush.
In December, artillery shells fell close to the camp," UNHCR's Fleming
noted. "We fear that future rounds of border violence could cost
refugees' lives," she added.
So far, some 2,300 refugees have relocated southwards to safer sites in
Nyeel and Pariang. UNHCR is providing them with food, water, shelter,
sanitation and health care. Refugee leaders agreed to relocate
children, recognizing their needs for safety and formal education.
Around 1,500 secondary school students have registered to receive
instruction in Pariang. They are accompanied by refugee teachers and
Some 450 local and refugee children are attending primary school
together in Nyeel, where the authorities have provided land for
cultivation. Seeds and tools have been distributed to refugee families
Meanwhile, in Sudan's Upper Nile state, where the refugee influx is
continuing, relocation from border zones is a routine matter. About
86,000 Sudanese refugees fleeing attacks in Blue Nile state have
relocated to the safety of formal sites in Doro and Jammam. UNHCR
conducts monitoring missions and coordinates with local authorities to
find and relocate new arrivals to the settlements, where humanitarian
assistance is provided.
In total more than 105,000 Sudanese refugees from Southern Kordofan and
Blue Nile states are enjoying asylum in South Sudan. Another 30,000
refugees fled Blue Nile into Ethiopia.