The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, has temporarily suspended repatriating southern Sudanese refugees from northern Uganda. That follows fatal attacks on civilians along convoy routes in Sudan. The Sudanese had fled their country during the many years of civil war.
Helene Caux is a spokesperson for the UNHCR. From Geneva, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the attacks.
“We decided to suspend our repatriation operation from northern Uganda to South Sudan following different reports armed men, unknown gunmen, killed at least 38 civilians yesterday (Thursday) in at least three attacks on different roads coming from Juba, which is the capital of south Sudan. We were supposed to have a convoy this morning from Moyo refugee camp in northern Uganda to Kajo Keiji in south Sudan. In fact, the convoy had already started to go to south Sudan, transporting 180 people. And we had to stop this convoy basically following a UN decision to stop movements,” says Caux.
The UNHCR is monitoring the security situation. Accusations have been traded between the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels and the Ugandan army over who is responsible, but Caux says the UNHCR has no information on who’s behind the attacks.
The UNHCR says since 2005, the agency has voluntarily repatriated 14,000 south Sudanese from neighboring countries, including 4,500 from northern Uganda. Currently, there are still about 350,000 south Sudanese refugees in camps in neighboring countries and another four million displaced within south Sudan.