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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

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