South Sudan: EU Backs Plan to Relocate Yida Refugee Camp

Juba — The European Union (EU) on Monday said it fully supports the decision by the South Sudan government and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) to relocate Yida camp in Unity state.

The EU ambassador, Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, who visited Yida camp, accompanied by the Ambassador of France and representatives from other member countries, expressed his concerns about the complex and logistically challenging humanitarian operations in the areas.

"[However] the mission was positively impressed by the dedication of the humanitarian workers in assisting the refugees in a challenging location with limited access during six months of the year throughout the rain season," the EU said in a statement to Sudan Tribune.

In recent months, heavy rains have made it extremely difficult for humanitarian workers to provide refugees with adequate food, water, sanitation and health services.

Burgsdorff, during a meeting with the refugee committee, reportedly pledged the EU's commitment to not only provide life-saving services to the refugee population, but also to ensuring that refugees have access to education and livelihood services.

Antonio Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said the situation in Yida, which has nearly 60,000 Sudanese refugees, fleeing conflict across the border in neighbouring Sudan, presents one of the most "forgotten crises and challenging refugee operations in the world."

Gueterres, who visited Yida camp last week, appealed to the international community to help find solutions to the problems affecting nearly 180,000 and 40,000 refugees in South Sudan and Ethiopia respectively.

"My appeal to the international community is for them to be able to express to the refugees the same solidarity shown by host communities towards them. We need financial and political support in order to find a political solution to the crisis," said Guteres.

"There is never a humanitarian solution for a humanitarian problem. The solution is always political and it goes far beyond our mandate," he added.

Guterres also lauded the commitment of the South Sudan government in doing whatever it takes to convince refugees to move to better and safer locations.

He also warned against permitting armed people to enter camps, saying the practice could generate violence in the form of forceful recruitment and sexual hostility.

"It is very important that the camps preserve their civilian and humanitarian nature," said Guterres.

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