Home | News    Sunday 19 March 2017

Ethiopia sees surge in refugees from South Sudan, UN says

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Wrist-banding of newly-arrived south Sudanese refugees at the Pagak entry point, Gambella. On 4 November 2016 (UNHCR Ethiopia-Photo)
By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

March 18, 2017 (ADDIS ABABA) - The number of South Sudan refugees fleeing to neighbouring Ethiopia has seen a surge since the beginning of March, the UN refugee agency said on Saturday.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a statement it extended to Sudan Tribune Saturday said over 600 South Sudan refugees are crossing borders to Ethiopia in March on daily basis, due to the ongoing conflict and food scarcity.

“The daily arrival rate has significantly jumped from 103 persons in February and 199 in February to 660 so far in March,” it said.

Between 1 and 11 March 2017, a total of 7,258 South Sudanese refugees have arrived in Ethiopia’s Gambella region.

Of these, 3,967 arrived in the week of 6 to 11 March, representing a daily average arrival rate of 660 people.

The latest influx has brought the total number of South Sudanese refugees who have arrived in Ethiopia since September 2016 to 68,858.

All the new arrivals have gone through level-1 registration and were most of them relocated to Nguenyyiel refugee camp, one of South Sudan refugee camps in Gambela region bordering South Sudan.

Pagak, a border town of South Sudan continues to be the main entry point through which an increasing number of South Sudanese refugees are crossing into Gambella, Ethiopia.

Between 1 February and 11 March 2017, a total of 12,828 refugees crossed through Pagak.

So far in March, 7,258 arrivals were registered in Pagak and all, but 192, were relocated to Nguenyyiel refugee camp while other new arrivals remain in Pagak, awaiting relocation.

According to the latest report, 65% of the total registered new arrivals are children, including 15,488 unaccompanied and separated children.

A recent sample survey conducted in Pagak revealed that the new arrivals originated mainly from Upper Nile State (Nasir, Longechuk or Mathiang, Ulang and Maiwut Counties) and Jonglie State (Uror, Akobo and Ayod Counties).

Conflict and food insecurity were cited as the main reasons for leaving South Sudan.

The majority (87%) continue to be women and children. A good number of those who arrived in March originated from Bentiu.

According to the UN refugee agency, as of 15 March, Ethiopia hosted more than 356,000 South Sudanese refugees who originate mostly from Upper Nile and Jonglie States, as well as some from the Unity state.

In addition to registration and protection, WASH, Nutrition, Primary Health Care and other services are available and functioning well at the entry point.

As South Sudan refugees continue to flee to Ethiopia in large numbers, UNHCR in close collaboration with its Ethiopian partner, Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) is in the process of ensuring maximum preparedness by reviewing the capacity of Nguenyiel camp and the identification of possible sites for new camps.

"With Nguenyyiel quickly reaching its capacity and no readily available site for establishing additional camps in the Gambella region, the possibility of transferring new arrivals to the Benishangul- Gumuz Region is being considered," the agency said.

"UNHCR and ARRA are in the process of identifying a suitable site in that region" it added.

Given the ongoing conflict and food insecurity in the newest nation, UNHCR together with ARRA and other partners, have also finalised a draft Contingency Plan to respond to the possibility of a renewed influx of refugees from South Sudan.

The draft contingency plan foresees the arrival of potential more refugees in Ethiopia and fund shorting.

(ST)

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  • 19 March 2017 05:43, by Paul Ongee

    It’s the Nuers who support IO-Riek Machar who are defeated in the battle fields and fleeing to their relatives in Ethiopia and Khartoum where they were used as tools for destabilizing South Sudan since 1983. Now most of them are making the ends meet (struggling to pay bills) in the Western world and making financial contribution to Io-hotel dwellers who create rumors, fabrications and lies.

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    • 19 March 2017 05:50, by Paul Ongee

      It’s a good news to me in particular. Let them go to Ethiopia or any other neighboring countries where they will notice a difference between being refugees from 1983 -2005 and from 2013-present. Does UN care more about them as it happen from 1983 or not? Riek Machar’s tribal war waged on the basis of attaining presidency is senseless. They better leave South Sudan and come back with a new mindset

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      • 19 March 2017 06:00, by Paul Ongee

        I don’t think they will take refuge to Ethiopia, reorganize and come back to South Sudan to fight the senseless war of fake military ranks and employment opportunities. Those in Diaspora who came and tasted the soup of combat went back to their respective western countries and resorted now to fighting only through computer keyboard. which will never make any difference on the ground.

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        • 19 March 2017 06:25, by Paul Ongee

          Those who prefer using violence to transfer power from the democratically elected President Salva Kiir Mayardit must know that they will never achieve anything under the sun. Those who make financial contribution for IO-Riek hotel dwellers are certainly giving up now. Regional politics is not even making any difference on the ground. SPLM/A is here to stay. Never hide behind SPLM/A.

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  • 19 March 2017 16:02, by Dak tak

    Ongee
    How can you celebrate the exodus of your people, the country is now almost empty as people everywhere in South Sudan are leaving the country. Can you also celebrate the recent surge of dinka in Darfur, where they are now accommodated as refugee. The only solution is for the current JCE led government to accept peace and not waste its time to only buy weapon for more killing and displacement

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