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.
    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

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora