News / Africa

Returnees Could Present South Sudan's Next Big Crisis

South Sudanese children wait outside their tent at Andalus camp during a visit by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres in Khartoum, Sudan, January 11, 2012.
South Sudanese children wait outside their tent at Andalus camp during a visit by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres in Khartoum, Sudan, January 11, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Gabe Joselow

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, says up to half a million people could leave Sudan for South Sudan in the coming months. Officials are anticipating a major exodus ahead of an April deadline Khartoum has set for South Sudanese nationals living in the north to register or leave the country.

Sudan has ordered that all South Sudanese nationals in the country register as foreign residents or leave by April 9.

U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) officials expect hundreds of thousands of people could make the trip in coming months.  But it is impossible to know the exact numbers or how much assistance the new arrivals will need.

UNHCR Representative for South Sudan Mireille Girard says the agency is making contingency plans based on a number of possible scenarios.

“In a worst-case scenario, we could have up to 500,000 people hitting the road in a few days’ time, and that will would create a major bottleneck inside South Sudan because the absorption capacity is very stretched already," said Girard.

Girard says the agency expects, that of those returning to South Sudan, up to 100,000 could need emergency assistance.

Many of the returnees, she says, are likely to end up crowded together in the remote town of Renk, just south of the border.  Already difficult to reach, the area will become nearly impossible to access by road once the rainy season begins in March.

UNHCR and its partners are already overloaded with an influx of refugees escaping violence in Sudan's Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.  The fighting, between Sudanese Armed Forces and rebel factions aligned with the south, has displaced some 130,000 people since June, most of whom have fled to South Sudan; the rest to Ethiopia.

Girard says for the new migration to go smoothly, it will require cooperation from all sides. “So if everything goes well, then the movement will be in place, a movement plan as designed by the agencies working in Sudan and those in South Sudan to try to make it happen in an orderly manner with support from the international community, but primarily a movement driven by the two countries. So that is our hope. While we plan for the best, we also have to prepare for the worst,” she said.

Refugees and returnees crossing the border in the coming months will be entering a country struggling with a number of serious humanitarian crises, including inter-tribal fighting in Jonglei that has killed thousands.

Insecurity will also remain a challenge inside refugee camps.  There have been a series of bombing raids on camps near the border with Sudan, including one in Unity State in November that the United Nations blamed squarely on Sudanese forces.

There was a similar bomb attack on another camp in Upper Nile state last month.

In whatever numbers, the new arrivals to South Sudan are likely to add to the burden of a fragile new nation that already has its hands full.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid