GENEVA - As Sudan’s South Kordofan province prepares to mark the fifth anniversary of war on Sunday, the U.N. refugee agency reports thousands of people continue to flee the region, with no let-up in sight. Most are heading for South Sudan.
In the lead-up to South Sudan’s Independence in 2011, conflict erupted between Sudan’s government and a rebel movement, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North. The U.N. refugee agency reports the problems that were pushing people to flee their homes back then continue to this day.
UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said so far this year, more than 7,500 refugees have crossed the border to Yida in South Sudan’s Unity State — already home to some 70,000 refugees.
He said thousands more are expected to arrive in the coming weeks as the conflict in South Kordofan intensifies.
“From the refugees, we are hearing of escalating violence, a talk of ground attacks, aerial bombings," he said. "The recent arrivals are also citing lack of food, no access to schools for their children. This seems to be especially acute in and around the Um Doreein area. Most people are either arriving by trucks; some are coming on by foot, or by bicycle — many traveling for about a week or so to reach there.”
Refugees are reporting the conflict in South Kordofan has shifted to the northeast and some people have become trapped and are unable to escape.
The UNHCR said nearly 90 percent of those arriving in South Sudan are women and children. It added that a high number of children have become separated from their families during flight.
The agency said the refugees are being transferred from Yida to a refugee camp in Adoung Thok. It said the camp, which was established in 2013, is badly overstretched so, a new refugee camp is being set up nearby to accommodate new arrivals.