News / Africa

In South Sudan, Tensions Between Locals, Refugees Boil Over

FILE - Women gather to collect water at the Yusuf Batil refugee camp in Upper Nile, South Sudan, July 4, 2012.
FILE - Women gather to collect water at the Yusuf Batil refugee camp in Upper Nile, South Sudan, July 4, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
The U.N. refugee agency says recent reciprocal attacks between South Sudanese residents of Maban County in Upper Nile State and Sudanese refugees have forced up to 8,000 refugees to flee from the Yusuf Batil Camp.

UNHCR spokeswoman Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba says the refugees have since returned to the camp, but tensions persist and have spread to the Doro and Kaya refugee camps. She says villagers and refugees are fighting over limited resources, including wood, grass and grazing land, and that hostilities between the groups recently reached a fever pitch that saw both groups set fire to each other’s houses, tents and granaries.

“They are not in any better shape than the refugees," she said of the villagers. "This is all due to the current situation. Maban is an isolated area, [and] with the fighting since December, it has been one of the hardest hit areas and people cannot — whether it is humanitarian or commercial agencies — go in and out of the town.

Maban County currently hosts an estimated 125,000 Sudanese refugees who fled embattled Blue Nile state. According to UNHCR, one-third of the refugee population is made up of small children, pregnant and lactating women, as well as the elderly, disabled and chronically ill.

"Just the day before yesterday, when I was reading the reports and talking with my colleagues on the ground, Maban was under the control of rebels," she added. "This morning it was taken over by the government. So there is a lot of fighting going on.”

Since fighting between government and rebel forces broke out in South Sudan in mid-December, instability and conflict in Maban County have disrupted the planting and harvest seasons. In addition, aid agencies are having great difficulty transporting food and other supplies to the region because of insecurity along the roads.

Lejeune-Kaba says local residents angered by growing food shortages are demanding that some 60,000 refugees in Yusuf Batil and Gendrassa camps leave within two months.  

“Realistically, we cannot do it," she said. "The rainy season is coming. Sixty-thousand is a lot of people, and Maban is an area where you cannot move people fast. You need trucks and we do not even want to get to that situation where people would have to be moved because it takes a lot to identify a site. The land on the sites we identify belong to people. You have to negotiate with them for them to agree to take them in, and if they learn that there has been fighting, I do not think they would want to welcome refugees.”  

UNHCR is coordinating with authorities and other humanitarian agencies to diffuse the tensions. Governments of South Sudan and Ethiopia have agreed to let the World Food Program bring much-needed food supplies into Maban through Gambella in Ethiopia.

The food, which will be distributed to internally displaced people and refugees in the coming days, should help reduce some of the tension between the refugees and locals.

Lejeune-Kaba says insecurity and hunger are forcing more South Sudanese to flee into neighboring countries, and that Ethiopia is currently receiving an average of 1,000 South Sudanese refugees every day.

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs