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BUNJ - 29 Mar 2014

Photos: Reconciliation workshop in Maban County

Blue Nile refugees and Maban County natives have held a reconciliation conference after tensions erupted into violence between the two communities earlier this month.

In early March up to 8,000 refugees fled Yusuf Batil camp during hostilities between the refugees and their South Sudanese neighbours. Local youths afterwards threatened to expel the refugees from the county. 

Native administration leaders participating at the conference, which took place on Monday and Tuesday, said they renounced violence and joined hands for peaceful coexistence, putting aside their differences.

Maban County hosts more than 120,000 refugees from Blue Nile State, where SPLA-N and the Sudanese army began fighting in 2011. The refugee population is far larger than that of the county natives.

The participants have requested concerned authorities to implement resolutions of the peace conference, including the county government led by Commissioner James Pasha.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, stated in a report on its website on Thursday that it has been involved in the reconciliation efforts since the day after the exodus of refugees from Yusuf Batil on March 4.

“Officials of the Committee on Refugee Affairs and UNHCR met host community leaders and refugees representatives while police reinforcements were deployed to the area to keep the peace and allow for the return of the refugees,” reported the UN agency.

The report added that UNHCR is assessing the damage to property belonging to refugees and host community members, and also started distributing aid items such as plastic sheeting, blankets, mosquito nets, kitchen sets and sleeping mats to affected families and individuals from both communities.

"We have also appealed to our NGO partners to support the host communities with water and sanitation facilities, mobile health services and shelter material, before the rains begin," said Adan Ilmi, head of UNHCR's sub-office in Bunj, Maban County.

Photos in the gallery below by Radio Tamazuj show the latest reconciliation workshop between the leaders of the two communities. Also shown are photos of looted shops in the market in Batil refugee camp, where a trader was reportedly killed.