Update on South Sudan Operations, 18 - 24 March 2013
Aftermath of Yida clashes
Following the 16 March clashes between South Sudanese law enforcement officials and unknown armed elements in the north-eastern section of Yida settlement, local authorities reported that one police officer was killed along with one infant and one civilian while several others were injured.
That incident highlights UNHCR’s repeated concerns about refugees residing close to a contested border in a highly militarized zone and the presence of armed elements, both of which severely compromises the civilian character of the settlement.
During the incident, some 1,000 refugees fled the only way they could: north towards Jau. This week, UNHCR transported those refugees back to Yida.
Many refugees returned to their homes find their belongings had been looted. They lost blankets, jerry cans, soap, food and other items. They found fellow refugees had converged in groups and created communal shelters, surrounding themselves with whatever belongings they were able to salvage, like wooden beds.
UNHCR has been working closely with the refugees in Yida to assess how they were affected by the incidents and assist those in need. Staff have been conducting interviews with affected families to determine their immediate needs and help them get back to an ordinary way of life. Replacement relief items are being issued through refugee leaders.
Later this month UNHCR will open a new refugee camp in Ajuong Thok to ease over-crowding in Yida. The site is located some 90 km south-east of the contested border area. The Government of South Sudan has designated Ajuong Thok as a safe and secure area for habitation by refugees.
UNHCR staff continue to sensitize refugees on the rationale behind the opening of the new camp and the services they will have access to such as primary and secondary schooling, and land for farming.