IDP News Alert, 12 August 2011
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Sudan: Massive atrocities and displacement in Southern Kordofan
Ongoing fighting between Sudanese government forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in Southern Kordofan State has been accompanied by widespread violence and displacement of civilians. Human Rights Watch has reported extensive bombardment of civilian areas, and widespread extrajudicial killings, arrests, and looting and destruction of civilian property by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) forces. The SPLA has also been accused of committing atrocities and failing to protect civilians. United Nations human rights experts have expressed alarm over reports of mass killings.
The violence has displaced tens of thousands of people toward El Obeid and the Nuba Mountains, where they have scattered due to ongoing aerial bombardments. The Sudan Council of Churches reported on 10 June that civilians in the Nuba Mountains were being hunted down by helicopter gunships. The number of people displaced or otherwise affected by the hostilities is still unclear due to ongoing access constraints. On 28 July, humanitarian agencies estimated (based on the populations of affected areas identified in the 2010 census) that up to 200,000 people could be displaced, with a bigger number affected. The lack of access has hindered the provision of humanitarian assistance.
The fighting broke out on 5 June near Kadugli, the capital of the oil-rich state, after weeks of growing tension between the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) over security arrangements in Southern Kordofan and the re-election of the governor of the state.
South Sudan: Displacement in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity and Lakes state
Throughout June and July thousands of people were displaced in Jonglei, Lakes, Unity and Upper Nile states by inter-communal clashes, fighting between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and rebel militia groups, and Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) bombardments. In Jonglei the inter-communal clashes worsened in July as, after months of attacks and cattle-raiding by the Murle, the Dinka and Lou Nuer reportedly joined forces and conducted a series of retaliatory attacks. The UNMIS delegation reported seeing burned villages throughout the entire area. At the end of June, there were over 2000 displaced people in Pibor town; it is unknown if others remained in hiding in remote areas.
In Unity State’s Lake Jawin area, aerial bombing by the SAF in late June and July reportedly displaced over 7,000 people. Other IDPs had fled from clashes between SPLA and rebel militia groups which began in mid-April. Tens of thousands of people may have also been displaced within Mayom County. In Lakes State, sporadic inter-communal clashes continued throughout June. The number of people displaced in Cueibet County reportedly passed 5,000.
Tensions were high in Manyo and Fashoda counties in Upper Nile State, with civilians reportedly being forcibly recruited and abducted. At the end of June local authorities in Fashoda County reported that an unconfirmed number of civilians had been displaced by clashes between the SPLA and militia. Clashes in July between the Shilluk community and SPLA resulted in the displacement of more than 10,000 people.
Nigeria: People displaced by Maiduguri violence start to return, but violence resumes
Following bomb attacks by the Boko Haram group in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri in mid-July, Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency established four centres for people displaced, and reported on 31 July that it had been supporting around 1,300 IDPs.
By 23 July, those displaced had started going back to Maiduguri and the situation appeared to be returning to normal. However sporadic bombing and killing has since resumed, and the violent response of the security forces, which caused 23 deaths at the end of July, has led Amnesty International to denounce the armed forces as well as Boko Haram.
The federal government has established a committee to hear the grievances of concerned parties and propose solutions.
Yemen: Conflict in various parts of the country continues to displace
The UN estimated on 3 August that at least around 375,000 people had been displaced by ongoing conflict and civil unrest in Yemen, which have led to the death or injury of hundreds of people since mid-May. In southern Yemen, continued fighting had internally displaced 91,000 people in Aden, Lahj, Abyan, and Sana’a. In the most recent displacements, notably in Taiz, Sana’a and Shabwa, over 11,000 people fled fighting between security forces and tribal militias.
In northern Yemen, close to 250,000 people remain in protracted displacement due to the Sa’ada conflict in Al Hajjah, Al Jawf, and Amran governorates. Sporadic fighting has caused significant new displacement: fighting in Al Jawf between Al Houthis and Al Islah has displaced over 3,000 people.
Limited access continues to hinder humanitarian assistance and the gathering of sufficient data on the specific needs of conflict-affected populations. Humanitarian agencies have underlined the lack of access for conflict affected populations to basic commodities such as food, drinking water and shelter, aggravated by the continuing fuel crisis. As of the end of July, the Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen had only attracted 51 per cent of requested funds.
Haiti: IDPs face eviction as passing storm highlights ongoing vulnerability
Around 130,000 people displaced by the January 2010 earthquake are threatened with forced eviction. Of the 2.1 million initial IDPs, over 630,000 were still living in 1,000 camps and informal settlements at the end of May.
In mid-July, the mayor of Port-au-Prince evicted more than 400 families from a camp inside the Sylvio Cator Stadium. Each evicted family was given the equivalent of about $250, but the relocation proposed put these IDPs in a far more vulnerable position than when they were in the camp. On 3 August, the last of almost 300 families were evicted from Camp Django in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Delmas. The IDPs in Camp Django were offered $125 to leave. Some families accepted the funding, but others who protested its inadequacy were reportedly threatened and beaten by police and agents of the landowner, and their shelters and the camps latrines were destroyed.
The UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights called for development efforts to be based on people’s rights, to avoid discrimination and to be guided by transparency and participation of beneficiaries in decision-making.
In early August, Tropical Storm Emily brought heavy rains and further misery to IDPs, even though it did not make landfall in the southern peninsula as feared last week. A number of the earthquake IDP camps are located in flood risk zones or on vulnerable hillsides. Extensive deforestation and poor infrastructure make Haiti particularly vulnerable to heavy rain, and preparedness in the IDP camps is weak. The hurricane season will continue until the end of November.
Japan: Tens of thousands still displaced after five months
A visit by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has highlighted the situation of people in north-eastern prefectures affected by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear disaster.
Nearly five months on, tens of thousands of homeless survivors are still living in evacuation centres in schools and other public buildings, or in hotels, while they wait for suitable accommodation. As of mid-July, around 91,500 people were still displaced, according to the government. The lack of suitable land in hilly coastal areas is a major challenge to the construction of new homes. Other evacuated people have been unable to return to their homes around the nuclear plant.
The Fukushima prefectural government has stated that all 557 shelters in the prefecture will shut at the end of October, as alternative accommodation for some 15,000 evacuees is close to being secured. However, people do not want to move into transitional housing away from schools and other amenities, or to lose their entitlement to assistance. Others want to remain with the people and communities they know.