Landmines hamper Sudan relief effort

2011-11-19 08:14

Geneva - Landmines are thwarting efforts to relocate refugees flooding into South Sudan to escape fighting in neighbouring Sudan, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.

Up to 200 Sudanese refugees have been arriving daily at Yida in Unity State after fleeing Sudan's troubled Southern Kordofan state.

The UNHCR is attempting to move them away from the border to safer areas of South Sudan but said landmines recently discovered on roads in Unity State were hampering the relief effort.

"We are not sure who is laying them," UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told journalists, while acknowledging the presence of active rebel groups in the area.

"The assumption is that they are new, however in many cases heavy rain and then drying can turn up landmines, so it's not a hundred percent clear.

"However, it's very disturbing that there are landmines along the roads" needed to transport refugees, Fleming said.

About 23 000 people are sheltering at the Yida camp, hit last week in a deadly air raid. Sudan denied carrying out the attack which killed at least 11 people.

UNHCR said it had prepared a site for refugees further south but many who were worried about family still in Southern Kordofan preferred to stay closer to their homes.

North and South Sudan, which fought a two decade civil war up to 2005, have been unable to agree a border and the sharing of revenues and debts since their split earlier this year, increasing tensions between the two states.

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