This is a summary of what was said by the UNHCR spokesperson at today’s Palais des Nations press briefing in Geneva. Further information can be found on the UNHCR websites, www.unhcr.org and www.unhcr.fr, which should also be checked for regular media updates on non-briefing days.
At least one Sudanese refugee boy is injured and 14 others missing following an air raid in South Sudan yesterday (Monday). UNHCR is alarmed by this attack on vulnerable refugees already fleeing violence in Sudan’s Blue Nile state.
The aerial bombing occurred just after 10 am local time in Elfoj in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state. It was carried out in two instances with several bombs falling at the refugee transit site, located less than 10km from the border with Sudan.
At the time of the incident, about 5,000 refugees were at the site from where movement to new settlements take place on a daily basis. UNHCR and IOM teams with 14 trucks were supervising relocation operations when the first round of bombings took place. Refugees jumped out of the trucks and scattered. Agency staff also had to seek safety.
After the bombings, agency staff rapidly mobilised the refugees. The convoy left for a safe location some 70 kilometres from the border with 1,140 individuals on board. This brought to 11,477 the total number of refugees moved from Elfoj since relocation operations started on January 6th. About 4,000 more refugees relocated spontaneously from Elfoj.
There were previous attacks on Sudanese refugees in border areas. Last November, New Gufa an entry point for refugees in Maban County, Upper Nile state was bombed over several days. Yida refugee settlement, in Unity state near the border with Sudan’s South Kordofan state, was also hit by air raids.
Overall, more than 20,000 refugees have relocated spontaneously or with the assistance of the international community from border areas to new settlements in Upper Nile and Unity states. Last week, UNHCR and partners began relocating Sudanese refugees from Yida.
In total, more than 78,000 people have fled Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states since August last year. Of this number, more than 54,000 are in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state and 24,000 in Unity state.
For more information on this topic, please contact:
In Juba, South Sudan: Teresa Ongaro, mobile: +211 927 770 040
In Nairobi (UNHCR regional hub): Vivian Tan, mobile: +254 735 337 608
In Geneva: Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba: mobile: +41 79 249 3483