6 December 2012

Sudan: UNHCR - Increasing Number of Refugees Cross Into Unity State's Yida Refugee Camp

Bentiu — Unity state's Yida refugee camp is receiving an increasing number of refugees displaced from Sudan's South Kordofan state according to the UN High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR).

The UN confirmed this week it has registered about 2,800 new refugees following the resumption of fighting in Nuba Mountains over the past three weeks.

As the fighting escalated over the past two weeks between Sudanese army (SAF) and the Sudan People Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) rebels thousands are fleeing into neighbouring Unity state.

The Yida camp hosts 68,000 Sudanese refugees. The UNHCR has called for them to be relocated due to the dangers posed by the proximity to the international border with Sudan and therefore the ongoing conflict.

The increasing population size of the camp also poses a potential health crisis due to the close proximity of its inhabitants, in an unsanitary environment.

The Sudanese refugees who fled to Yida camp face insecurity and poor road accessibility to the state capital. This year the UN says poor health conditions are endangering the lives of Sudanese refugees in the camp, with two Sudanese children reportedly dying of diarrhoea every day.

The UNHCR wants to relocate refugees from Yida to Nyal, about 60km from the common border, but many of the refugees refused to move to Nyal saying the Yida camp environment is more comfortable.

The rainy season in Unity state has hampered road access difficult. However, with the approach of the dry season and roads from Sudan's South Kordofan becoming passable the UN fear an influx of refugees to the area.

Local authorities and the UNHCR are finalising a study to identify the sustainability of sites for new refugees' arrival. The UN wants to locate the refugees away from the contested Sudan border, with a sufficient water supply and soil suitable for cultivation.

Nyal is also problematic; its low elevation makes it susceptible to flooding. The refugees in Parieng county have also been victim to flooding, necessitating an in depth study on the best relocation site.

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