Relocation of Sudanese refugees from Malakal begins

13 Sep 2013

Relocation of Sudanese refugees from Malakal begins

10 September 2013 -- The South Sudan Commission for Refugee Affairs (CRA) and UNHCR have begun the relocation of Sudanese refugees from Upper Nile State to Ajuong Thok in Unity State.

The first group of 182 refugees left the Upper Nile State capital Malakal in a boat on Sunday, bound for Rubkona in Unity State.They were accompanied by an official of the CRA and a nurse working with the national non-governmental organisation Humane Development Council.

"We have informed the refugees that the Government has no intention of establishing a refugee camp or settlement in Kodok or Lelo," said the South Sudan Refugee Affairs Commissioner John Bol Akot, referring to the communities in Upper Nile State where the refugees had settled.

Over 2,100 refugees fled to South Sudan from villages in Kaunyaro Hill in the Sudanese state of South Kordofan. Aerial bombardments and ground offensives had prevented many refugees from farming, resulting in food shortages over the past year that left some individuals visibly malnourished.

They started to arrive in Upper Nile State in mid-July, and during their trek through the bush some refugees died from exhaustion, hunger and disease.

The Refugee Affairs Commissioner said that about 70 per cent of the refugees are women and children. "They should not be located close to the border, for their own protection and safety," said Mr. Akot. "We are therefore urging them to register for relocation in order to access protection and assistance in a sustainable manner."

A total of 203,413 refugees from Sudan are currently registered within South Sudan.

The UNHCR Representative, Mr. Cosmas Chanda, credited the untiring support of the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, local authorities, the Upper Nile State Ministry of Health and other humanitarian partners in Malakal for the swift response to the refugees' urgent needs.

UNHCR distributed emergency relief items, such as sleeping mats, blankets, soap, kitchen sets and jerry cans. The International Committee of the Red Cross provided plastic sheeting and mosquito nets, while WFP supplied food and nutrition products.

UNICEF has furnished water purification tablets and buckets, and the World Health Organisation provided medical supplies for the boat trip which lasted more than 30 hours.

Upon arrival in Ajuong Thok,said Mr. Chanda, the refugees will receive a full package of assistance that will include individual family plots of land, shelter, health, water and sanitation services.