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YIDA CAMP - 1 Jan 2014

Nuba Mountains refugees trapped between two conflicts

Refugees living at Yida camp are appealing for help after international staff of aid organizations left owing to the ongoing national crisis in South Sudan.

"The evacuation of NGOs at this critical time will worsen the refugees situation and will put their lives at risk,” said Najda Romio Peter, a spokeswoman for the refugees.

Peter is a member of the refugee council in Yida, which is home to about 70,000 people who fled the conflict in neighboring South Kordofan State since 2011.

Another 6,591 are living nearby at Adjoung Thok camp, where an aid worker was killed in an apparently ethnically motivated attack on 21 December.

Refugee spokesman Najda Romio said refugees in these two camps have been “cut off from any support,” adding, “they face difficult choices of either remaining without assistance or returning to Nuba Mountains where the government of Sudan is denying access to international organizations."

She appealed to the UN Secretary-General and peacekeeping mission in South Sudan “to make every effort to protect the refugees in Unity State and Upper Nile.”

“We appeal to UNHCR not to abandon the refugees at this critical moment and continue to provide the needed basic services to refugees," she added.

Upper Nile State, which has also been affected by violence since the start of hostilities in South Sudan in mid-December, is home to another 122,000 refugees from Blue Nile State of Sudan.

It is also reported that an estimated 1,200 people who fled fighting in western Kadugli area arrived to Yida recently without being properly registered. The fighting in South Sudan has forced NGOs working in the refugee camps to evacuate many of their personnel.

Photo: Children in Yida refugee camp, April 2012 (Radio Tamazuj)