Over a thousand returnees arrive in Renk

4 Apr 2012

Over a thousand returnees arrive in Renk

31 March 2012 - Despite recent clashes between Sudanese and South Sudanese forces in Heglig, busloads of returnees destined for Bahr El-Ghazal arrived safely today in Renk County, Upper Nile State.

The 1,476 South Sudanese encountered armed military along the way in the Sudanese state of Southern Kordofan, according to County Commissioner Akuei Kak.

"These people, according to what they have reported to us here, say they have been beaten ... and exposed to ... severe and inhuman treatment," Commissioner Deng said.

Among returnees travelling on the buses was Awathia Peter, who said they had been assured of safe passage by officials of the South Sudanese government.

But when the returnees arrived in Heglig, Southern Kordofan State, Ms. Peter said they were stopped by armed forces (whose identity has not been confirmed) and told to disembark from the buses.

"We (were) forced to come out of the buses at gun point," Ms. Peter said. "Many tried to escape but were told to come back."

They were detained at the border town of Joda, which straddles the border between While Nile (Sudan) and Upper Nile (South Sudan) states, for a day before they travelled to Renk in vehicles provided by the South Sudanese government.

The returnees, who require urgent humanitarian assistance, have been temporarily settled in Payuer, an area south of Renk town.

"These people have no food, no medicine and no shelter, and are traumatized and exhausted," Commissioner Kak said. "The humanitarian condition for these people now is critical and the national government and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) need to offer urgent assistance."

On 27 March, the UN Security Council demanded that Sudan and South Sudan cease cross-border violence, noting a grave urgency to deliver humanitarian aid to those affected.