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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More