NAIROBI, 10 June 9 IRIN) - Humanitarian
agencies on Thursday said the numbers of Sudanese refugees crossing over
into Uganda and Kenya to flee fighting in south Sudan are not as alarming
as originally reported in the press.
An official from Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) acknowledged to IRIN that hundreds of mainly children had crossed from the Chukudum area, but that the figure of 150-200 per day was too high. A joint UNHCR/Uganda government mission to assess the situation in the Kotido district of northern Uganda confirmed the presence of 345 people, mostly unaccompanied children, who had crossed the post of Kawalakol.
UNHCR said the movement had started last month and the refugees had been cared for by the local authorities and Red Cross. The refugees told UNHCR they were fleeing "ongoing inter-tribal fighting".
A World Food Programme (WFP) source in Kampala told IRIN they had received reports from their field officers that the child refugees were looking to attend schools, as their schools back home had been closed due to the war. "The girls were being abducted by rebels and the boys conscripted into the [rebel] army," the source said.
UNHCR in Nairobi confirmed that a total of 442 refugees had arrived at Lokichoggio in Kenya. "They are weak, and a very small number are wounded. Each case will be examined and probably resettled in Kakuma [camp]," a UNHCR official said.
Meanwhile, an official of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) told IRIN running battles were going on in the Chukudum area between the Dinka-dominated SPLA and the local Didinga tribe. The clashes began earlier in the year after an SPLA member was allegedly killed by a Didinga tribesman.
"The fighting ceased for a while, but was recently sparked again following certain grievances by the local tribe," the official said, adding that the grievances ranged from food problems, to lootings and curfews which had caused population movements.
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