February 16, 2015 (BENTIU) – Fire has destroyed 102 shelters in a UN compound in Unity state for internally displaced people, according to residents who have resided at the site since the country’s current crisis erupted in mid-December 2013.
In an exclusive interview with Sudan Tribune by satellite phone that the fire started when a woman lit a charcoal fire.
Most of shelters in various UN camps are made locally from flammable goods such as wood and grass.
Mary Nyadien, a resident at the Unity state camp, told Sudan Tribune that fire broke out at around 10am (local time) on Monday.
Many items such as food, bedding and other equipment was lost in the fire.
“This morning the fire started in one of the rakuba (shelters) and after that spread to the whole camps, destroying a number of houses within the camp,” she said.
Simon Chuol, who also resides at the camp, told Sudan Tribune more than 100 rakuba were subsequently destroyed in the blaze.
“As you know most of these Rakuba are very close to each other, making it easy [the] spread of fire to whole camps,” said Chuol.
He says although no-one injured, a number of properties were destroyed.
“Many people have lost their properties as the fire [has] gone wild. It was not easy to [be] controlled, but through the help from IDPs themselves and UNMISS peace keepers they have managed to take control of it,” he said.
An aid worker has also confirmed to Sudan Tribune that the fire destroyed sections of the camp, causing serious damage.
Many displaced South Sudanese have sought refuge in UN camps amid fears of ethnic violence by the country’s warring parties.
Camps are often overcrowded due to the high numbers of people who have been forced to abandon their homes due to the escalation in violence across the country between troops loyal to president Salva Kiir and rebel forces aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar.
Both warring groups have been unsuccessfully trying to negotiate a settlement in peace talks in Ethiopia since violence erupted in mid-December 2013 after a dispute over political reforms.