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UNHCR Sudan Operations: Sudan/Chad situation update 67, 03 Dec 2006




The security situation in Juba and its surroundings continues to be tense, particularly near the eastern bank of the Nile where a series of coordinated armed attacks on civilians have been carried out in recent months. During the reporting period, a large number of people were displaced from Gumbo township, five kilometres on the eastern bank of the Nile. A UNHCR-led team conducted verification in Kator Church area and 1,590 households (5,598 individuals) were recorded. The IDPs have lost most of their property, prompting UNHCR to solicit immediate humanitarian assistance to the group.

Further, a group of armed men reportedly attacked Katigiri village, some 60 kilometres west of Juba, looting property and abducting civilians, causing the police contingent in the area to flee. A detachment of the SPLM/A platoon was sent to the area. This is the first time this year that armed gangs have moved on the western bank, raising fears that an organised group of people are set to destabilize the peace process through armed banditry. In Juba town, security forces have tightened night surveillance and increased night patrol amidst increased insecurity.

Meanwhile, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, and the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony, held a meeting at Nabanga on 12 November. Although the LRA did not release women and children abducted over the years and the wounded as expected, the meeting was seen as a positive move to bolster the Government of Uganda/LRA peace talks.

The situation in Malakal, Upper Nile State, is tense following heavy fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the SPLM/A on 28-29 November. The UN has temporarily relocated non-essential staff from Malakal. The security situation in the town has now been largely restored to normalcy following joint intervention by senior level representatives from the SAF, SPLM/A and the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). UN and other international aid organizations have acted immediately to provide assistance in addressing the needs that have arisen as a result of the clashes. Due to the ongoing security situation, there will be no organized repatriation to Malakal or other areas in Upper Nile State until further notice.

In Blue Nile State, the UNHCR/WFP compound in Kurmuk was burned to the ground by a bush fire coming from the hills on 27 November. All staff accommodation as well as personal belongings and documents were burnt down. UNHCR/WFP offices were not affected and there we no causality on staff or other persons.

Visit by the President of Sudan

The President of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir, paid a one-day visit to Juba on 18 November. Addressing the Southern Sudan Cabinet, the President stressed that peace and security in the south are major components in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). He affirmed the importance of a mechanism for coordination between the armed forces and the SPLM/A, adding that the two groups are jointly responsible for the prevalence of security in the South. He stressed the importance of security in the oil production and investment areas, which is the responsibility of the joint forces. He also pledged to resolve the issue of militias in the South or in Khartoum.

Voluntary repatriation from Uganda

A convoy of 100 returnees from Moyo, Uganda, was received in Yei on 16 November. The returnees spent the night in Alero way station and 98 of them proceeded to Juba on 17 November. UNHCR Yei provided HIV/AIDS and mine risk awareness, a three-month food package and vaccinations against tetanus, whooping cough, polio, measles, diphtheria and meningitis. UNHCR Juba conducted individual verification interviews and distributed non-food items. The majority of the returnees had indicated final destinations in villages along the Yei - Juba road. However, all but one individual changed their destination to Juba town when verified. The reasons given by the returnees for changing their destination to Juba town were fear of mines and lack of services in the rural areas; some also indicated that they would return to the villages in a couple of months when it is planting season.

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