Briefing Notes, 6 March 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 6 March 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Renewed clashes in the disputed border areas between Sudan and South Sudan are prompting more people to seek safety in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state and in western Ethiopia.

Last week, UNHCR staff registered 2,287 new arrivals in the Doro and Jammam refugee sites in Upper Nile, bringing to more than 80,000 the total number of registered refugees in this region. The refugees are crossing into South Sudan from Sudan’s troubled Blue Nile state. They say they fled because of bombardments and the fear of more violence.

In western Ethiopia, UNHCR staff are also seeing a steady flow of new arrivals, mainly from Blue Nile state. We are working at establishing a third camp to accommodate the growing Sudanese influx into Ethiopia. The new camp is located in Bambasi and will have the capacity to house up to 20,000 refugees when it is completed later this month.

Since June 2011, heavy fighting between the Sudanese armed forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states has driven tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees into Ethiopia and South Sudan. We are expecting further arrivals into these two countries because refugees are reporting that many more communities are on the move in Blue Nile.

Meanwhile, the security situation remains precarious in the other disputed border area between South Sudan’s Unity state and Sudan’s Southern Kordofan. Bombing was reported on 29 February along the western border of Pariang County and on 26 February in the Lake Jau area. We are extremely concerned about the safety of people in the nearby Yida refugee settlement, which hosts 16,022 Sudanese.

In November last year bombs hit Yida, located in Unity state. In Upper Nile state, further east, bombs also fell in January on a transit centre for refugees at Elfoj, which at the time was hosting 4,000 people. UNHCR is continuing to transfer refugees away from volatile border areas to refugee sites we have established at safer distances from the fighting. The UNHCR-built sites allow for provision of food, clean water, health care and shelter as well as critical services in education and agriculture production.

Recently independent South Sudan now hosts more than 100,000 registered Sudanese refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Western Ethiopia has so far registered more than 30,000, mainly from Blue Nile.

For further information on these topics, please contact:

In Addis Ababa: Kisut Gebre Egziabher on mobile: +251 911 208 901

In Juba: Terry Ongaro on mobile: +211 927 770 040

In Geneva, Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba on mobile +41 79 249 3483

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