Fighting in South Sudan's Jonglei state displaces tens of thousands

News Stories, 11 June 2013

© UNHCR/S.Tessema
Refugees from an earlier wave of violence in Jonglei state gather under the shade of a tree in the Ethiopian border town of Matar

NAIROBI, Kenya, June 11 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday it was alarmed by fighting between government forces and armed troops in South Sudan's Jonglei state, which has displaced tens of thousands of people since erupting in March.

"In Pibor county in particular, we have seen increasing tension and serious allegations of a break-down in law and order, evidenced among other things by indiscriminate abuses and looting of civilian property," a UNHCR spokesperson said. Most of Pibor's 148,000 people are affected and many have been displaced more than once by the hostilities. Many people have fled into the bush, into areas that are hard to reach.

The security constraints have made it difficult for UNHCR to monitor the situation and to respond to humanitarian needs. Finding and reaching people affected by fighting in Jonglei is a major concern. "When we get access, we have been conducting border monitoring missions to assess population movements and we are sharing this information with neighbouring countries," the spokesperson said.

Many civilians are walking long distances to find sanctuary in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. In the first five months of this year, UNHCR registered 5,397 refugees from Jonglei state at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in north-west Kenya. These numbers are significant: this is approaching the total that arrived there in all of last year and is more than double the number who arrived in 2011 or 2010.

In Uganda, some 2,700 refugees from Jonglei have arrived since the beginning of the year, averaging about 527 per month.

The fighting in Pibor has resulted in an influx into Ethiopia, but on a smaller scale than some recent reports have suggested. Around 16,000 people arrived mainly between February 2012 and February 2013 before the most recent fighting.

UNHCR assessment teams have just returned from the border inside Ethiopia where they established the arrival of 2,178 refugees between May 7 and June 7. Some new arrivals reported that more people were on their way to Ethiopia from the Nyalongoro, Kaiwa and Niate areas of South Sudan.

"In South Sudan, we are working both in Jonglei state and at the national level to advocate for better protection of displaced people," said the spokesperson. As part of the humanitarian community, UNHCR is engaging with the government, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, key members of the diplomatic community and other stakeholders to ensure protection of civilians and improved humanitarian access.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

South Sudan Crisis: Urgent Appeal

Donate now and help to provide emergency aid to tens of thousands of people fleeing into South Sudan to escape violence.

Donate to this crisis

Southerners on the move before Sudanese vote

Ahead of South Sudan's landmark January 9, 2011 referendum on independence, tens of thousands of southern Sudanese in the North packed their belongings and made the long trek south. UNHCR set up way stations at key points along the route to provide food and shelter to the travellers during their arduous journey. Several reports of rapes and attacks on travellers reinforced the need for these reception centres, where women, children and people living with disabilities can spend the night. UNHCR has made contingency plans in the event of mass displacement after the vote, including the stockpiling of shelter and basic provisions for up to 50,000 people.

Southerners on the move before Sudanese vote

South Sudan: Preparing for Long-Awaited Returns

The signing of a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the army of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement on 9 January, 2005, ended 21 years of civil war and signaled a new era for southern Sudan. For some 4.5 million uprooted Sudanese – 500,000 refugees and 4 million internally displaced people – it means a chance to finally return home.

In preparation, UNHCR and partner agencies have undertaken, in various areas of South Sudan, the enormous task of starting to build some basic infrastructure and services which either were destroyed during the war or simply had never existed. Alongside other UN agencies and NGOs, UNHCR is also putting into place a wide range of programmes to help returnees re-establish their lives.

These programs include road construction, the building of schools and health facilities, as well as developing small income generation programmes to promote self-reliance.

South Sudan: Preparing for Long-Awaited Returns

South Sudan: The Long Trip Home

When the peace treaty that ended 21 years of civil war between north and south Sudan was signed in 2005, some 223,000 Sudanese refugees were living in Uganda – the largest group of Sudanese displaced to a neighbouring country.

Despite South Sudan's lack of basic infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals and roads, many Sudanese were eager to go home. In May 2006, the UN refugee agency's Uganda office launched an assisted repatriation programme for Sudanese refugees. The returnees were given a repatriation package, including blankets, sleeping mats, plastic sheets, mosquito nets, water buckets, kitchen sets, jerry cans, soap, seeds and tools, before being transported from the transit centres to their home villages. As of mid-2008, some 60,000 Sudanese living in Uganda had been helped back home.

As of the beginning of May 2008, some 275,000 Sudanese refugees had returned to South Sudan from surrounding countries, including Uganda, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya. Some 125,000 returned with UNHCR assistance.

Posted on 16 July 2008

South Sudan: The Long Trip Home

South Sudan: Food Security Play video

South Sudan: Food Security

Jacob is plowing 20 kilometers far from his own home town, Bor, after having to abandon it due to the ongoing fighting in South Sudan. Now in Mingkaman camp,as a displaced person, this land he plows is all he has after losing farm and cattle back home
South Sudan: Flooding Disaster Play video

South Sudan: Flooding Disaster

Nearly 100,000 people are living in cramped, overcrowded camps in Mingkaman, in Rivers State, South Sudan. Whenever it rains, tents become flooded causing already fragile sanitation conditions to worsen.
South Sudan: Rainy SeasonPlay video

South Sudan: Rainy Season

As the rainy season approaches, the humanitarian situation in South Sudan remains critical. The rains will make it more difficult to bring in aid and if conflict continues, half of South Sudan's 12 million people could be in danger of starvation by the end of this year.