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Refugee Repatriation Suspended in Parts of South Sudan

Increasing insecurity in south Sudan has caused the UN refugee agency to suspend some of its repatriation operations. Some 350-thousand south Sudanese sought safe haven in the Central African Republic, Uganda and the DRC during Sudan’s long civil war.

Helene Caux is a spokesperson for the UNHCR. From Geneva, she spoke to English to Africa’s Joe De Capua. “We are suspending the movements from the Central African Republic, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as from Uganda. The main reason is the security situation. You will remember that last week we had an attack on our compound in Yei, which is located about 50 kilometers north of the Ugandan border. Two of our staff were seriously wounded during this attack. (A guard and gunman were killed in the attack) More recently, over the weekend, there was a major attack on Yambio, which is about 40 kilometers north of the DRC border. There were different armed groups, who fought with the SPLA, the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army. And so the security situation is extreme tense, extremely volatile, and UNHCR has decided to relocate staff to safer locations in south Sudan.”

The suspension of repatriation operations is expected to last at least two weeks.

“We are sending a security team south Sudan to evaluate the situation there. And to see what are the needs to improve the security situation and to see also if our staff can work, if it’s feasible for our staff to work in certain locations,” she says. UNHCR’s Director for Sudan Operations arrived in Juba Monday and will tour the region over the next several days.