Anyuaks mark refugee day in Malakal

20 Jun 2012

Anyuaks mark refugee day in Malakal

20 June 2012 - Refugees in Dengershufu camp, Upper Nile State, celebrated World Refugee Day today with acrobatic feats, tugs of war and traditional dances.

But while the event in the capital Malakal was joyful, refugees said they faced several challenges in their daily lives.

Awili Obuli, speaking on behalf of the refugees, said land the state government had allocated them was far from the riverside and social services.

"We find it difficult to access health centers, grinding mills, or schools," said Ms. Obuli, a mother of three and member of the Anyuak community.

Malakal town has played host to 210 Anyuak refugees from Ethiopa for the past seven years.

The Malakal event was also attended by representatives of the state government and UN agencies.

Samuel Adieng, deputy director of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, said the government had urged refugees to cultivate land they were given for extra food to supplement that donated by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies.

Adan Ilmi Idris, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) representative in Malakal, reaffirmed the agency's commitment to assist refugees either to return home or remain in South Sudan peacefully.

"A reminder to the refugees; you are a visitor and as a visitor, you need to respect the laws of the land...UNHCR will not protect criminals," he warned.

South Sudan's Upper Nile State is currently home to over 100,000 Sudanese refugees, fleeing conflict between rebels and the Khartoum government. The state currently has five refugee settlements in Doro, Jamam, Yusuf Batali, Renk and Malakal.

In his message to commemorate the day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said World Refugee Day was a moment to remember all those affected, and a time to intensify our support.

"Four out of five refugees are in developing countries, and have benefitted from the remarkable generosity of host countries that themselves face serious deprivations."