• Middle East Monitor - Khalil Charles

70,000 South Sudan refugees escape to Sudan

More than 70,000 South Sudanese refugees have arrived in the Sudan since the beginning of February pushing the total close to 100,000, the Sudanese Aid Commissioner has said.

The majority have fled the Unity and Northern Bahr el Ghazal states due to hunger and have arrived in large numbers in Sudan’s East Darfur State. Deputy governor, Mohammed Al Hassan Al Beirag, said that the number of South Sudanese in the state alone had reached 84,000 refugees and continues to rise.

He told local news outlets that two refugee camps have already been established in Kario and Al Nimir areas and some NGOs have moved in to help with food and other essential services.

One of the camps located about 30 kilometres south of Ad Daein, Kario has been allocated for the Dinka Tribe and the other camp in Raja 20 kilometres west of Ad Daein has been allocated to the Fertit tribe. “We are still a new state and our income is limited, but despite all, we are able to provide some services to our brothers and sisters from South Sudan,” said the deputy governor.

The influx coincides with calls, this week, by rebel South Sudan commander, Thomas Cirilo who urged South Sudanese citizens to leave for neighbouring countries. In an official announcement, he declared his intent to begin an armed insurrection against the government. Cirilo told impoverished citizens to escape mistreatment and abuse at the hands of the ruling SPLM government led by President Silva Kirr Mayadit. “You may not be fed adequately or even get a good home, but at least you can get some rest, at least you can get some sleep,” he said in a recorded public address.

Last week, an alliance of Sudanese political parties, civil society organisations and many public figures announced a nationwide campaign to provide aid for South Sudan. Speaking on local radio last Thursday, Wajdi Saleh, a member of the alliance, said that a national committee had been set up to spearhead and coordinate humanitarian assistance for South Sudan. Earlier this week, the civil society network in Sudan pledged to assist affected areas; a donations campaign has already collected about a million items of clothing for women and children.

In South Sudan, more than 7.5 million people are in need of aid and over 3.4million people, including one million children, are estimated to be acutely malnourished across the country. That includes 270,000 children who face an immediate risk of death, if they are not reached in time.

Some 20 million people across four countries faced starvation and famine if the international community does not act quickly, the United Nations humanitarian chief warned the Security Council yesterday, expressing alarm at the funding gap to meet the needs in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and north-eastern Nigeria.

Since the South Sudan conflict erupted in 2013, a total of 1,400,883 South Sudanese sought refuge in the neighbouring countries, particularly in Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and the Sudan, according to UNHCR.

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