South Sudanese flood into Ethiopia

2014-04-16 11:49
Displaced South Sudanese citizens wait at a Sudanese border checkpoint in Joda, where Sudan's White Nile state meets the South's Upper Nile, after fleeing battles between rebel and government forces. (Ashraf Shazly, AFP)

Displaced South Sudanese citizens wait at a Sudanese border checkpoint in Joda, where Sudan's White Nile state meets the South's Upper Nile, after fleeing battles between rebel and government forces. (Ashraf Shazly, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Geneva - Up to 1 000 refugees from war-torn South Sudan are fleeing to Ethiopia each day, many of them on the brink of death, the UN said on Tuesday.

A massive 95% of the arrivals are also women and children, added the UN, citing witnesses saying that both boys and men have been forcibly recruited by armed men or killed along the way.

Since fighting erupted in December, refugees have been "arriving at a rate of 800-1 000 per day, and they are arriving on their last legs," Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the UN refugee agency, told reporters in Geneva.

If they had not received immediate help, "these people would be dead. They were really, really in bad shape," she said, following a recent visit to the region.

More than 95 000 South Sudanese refugees have crossed into Ethiopia since violence erupted in the world's youngest nation last December between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and fighters loosely allied to former vice president Riek Machar.

Nearly 200 000 more have sought refuge in Sudan, Uganda and Kenya, while more than 800 000 are displaced inside South Sudan, according to UN figures.

Some of those arriving in Ethiopia's Gambella region had walked up to three weeks to reach the border, Fleming said, adding that most were "very hungry, [with] up to 37% malnourished and needing emergency attention."

More than 4 000 malnourished children were receiving nutrition supplements, as were at least 3 500 lactating mothers, said Fleming.

Thousands of people have been killed in the violence that has also taken on an ethnic dimension, pitting Kiir's Dinka tribe against Machar's Nuer people.

New camps

Fleming on Tuesday also joined a chorus of aid workers voicing alarm over the low number of young men reaching the border.

"Generally in situations like these, we would see many more men arriving," she said.

But women were reporting that their husbands and sons had been forcibly recruited by unidentified armed groups or killed along the way, she said.

"People are arriving very traumatised by this and obviously in a state of shock," she said.

The UN and other organisations were scrambling to fly in new tents, build new camps and move refugees to higher ground as the rainy season approaches in Ethiopia, Fleming said.

At least 86 000 South Sudanese refugees are spread across four camps in Ethiopia, but nearly 10 000 people are also camped out at border crossing points.

In preparation for the rainy season, UNHCR has relocated refugees in low-lying water-prone areas in Kule camp and aid workers were due to begin a similar operation in the Leitchour camp on Tuesday, Fleming said.

The agency is also working with Ethiopian authorities to prepare a new and high-lying camp near Kule that should be able to shelter 30 000 refugees from late April.

A new transit centre was also being built near the Pagak border point to accommodate up to 5 000 people, Fleming said.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    un  |  south sudan  |  east africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

All Blacks sympathise with England
LIVE: Ireland 16-9 Italy
Wallabies achilles heel now a strength
Argentina overpower spirited Tonga
Traffic Alerts

Spontaneity is the order of the day. Let go and have some fun. Try not to set too many set plans and expectations and enjoy more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.