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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid