New refugee arrivals at South Sudan's Yida settlement

Briefing Notes, 16 November 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 16 November 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

South Sudan's largest refugee settlement Yida, in Unity State is seeing a sharp rise in new refugee arrivals. Over the past week there have been 2,100 new arrivals, 826 of them on Wednesday and 527 on Thursday. The refugees say the reason for their flight is intensified fighting in their home region of South Kordofan in neighbouring Sudan.

More than 85 per cent of the new arrivals are women and children, many of them exhausted after having walked for days. Ninety-nine children below five were identified as malnourished and are being cared for.

After being registered by UNHCR, refugees go through medical and nutritional screening and receive an emergency food ration. They also receive relief items such as jerry cans and kitchen sets to help them settle.

Yida is located close to the border point of Jau. We are building a water point on the road between Yida and the border to ensure refugees have access to drinking water. A 5,000 liter tank is being installed and will be refilled on a daily basis. UNHCR teams are monitoring the route to the border and transporting the most vulnerable to Yida, where capacity at the registration centre is being increased with additional latrines and water supply.

Refugees tell our staff on the Sudanese side of the border more people are heading towards Jau en route to Yida. People are worried about insecurity, and reaching the border is difficult. They are moving in small groups in fear of aerial bombardment.

Based on patterns over the past 12 months and taking into account seasonal cycles, our current planning anticipates further refugee arrivals between now and January due to the onset of the dry season and resumption of military activities in South Kordofan. Further surges are also possible for April/May in Unity State and for June in Upper Nile State. We are preparing sites and propositioning supplies to be ready for any influx.

As of last week there were 175,668 Sudanese refugees in South Sudan from fighting and insecurity in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Almost half of these are from Blue Nile.

On Wednesday and Thursday a delegation of EU diplomats representing the European Union, ECHO, Germany France, the Netherlands, the UK, Spain, Denmark and Sweden visited Yida to assess the current situation and the humanitarian response.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Juba, Melita Sunjic, on mobile +211 922 405 681
  • In Geneva, Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba on mobile +41 79 249 3483
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