World Bulletin / News Desk
The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday that the number of South Sudanese refugees fleeing to Ethiopia has passed 95,000.
"Refugees continue to arrive from South Sudan into the Gambella region at a rate of 800 to 1,000 people per day. They are predominantly women and children. Many women report that the men are forcibly recruited, while others have been killed," according to Melissa Fleming spokesperson for the agency.
The agency's latest report on South Sudan, released April 15, said that they and their partners are working to improve the conditions in the current camps, but are also building new ones and moving the refugees to higher ground as the rainy season fast approaches.
The report concluded saying that some 86,000 refugees fleeing South Sudan are now resident in four camps with a further 9,600 still to be relocated from border points.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused his sacked vice president, Riek Machar, of trying to overthrow him.
The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, with the U.N. estimating that some one million South Sudanese have been displaced by the violence.
Following weeks of peace talks in Addis Ababa mediated by the Intergovernmental Agency on Development, an East African trade bloc, the two sides signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in January.
They have yet to reach an agreement, however, to resolve the ongoing conflict.
UNHCR to build new Ethiopia camp for S. Sudan refugees
The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) on Tuesday said it had wrapped up preparations to build another refugee camp in Ethiopia's western Gambella region near the border with troubled South Sudan.
Fernando Godinho, spokesman for the UNHCR's Gambella office, told Anadolu Agency by phone that Ethiopia's Gambella State had granted the agency a parcel of land – at relatively high altitude – able to accommodate some 30,000 refugees.
"Now that the rainy season is approaching, an urgent need is felt to move refugees at flood-prone areas to safer camps," Godinho said.
Since South Sudan's political crisis erupted last December, thousands of South Sudanese have arrived in Gambella seeking refuge from ongoing violence back home.
"We are now receiving tents and other supplies; erection of the tents will begin soon," said Godinho. "The higher ground is very near the Kule camp, 40km from Gambella, which opened little over a month ago."
"Refugees at the Kule camp, which is located on lower ground, will be relocated to the new refugee site," he added. "It is a matter of relocating refugees from flood-prone areas to flood-proof ones."
At the border crossing in Pagak, roughly 4000 refugees continue to cross the border each day, according to Godinho.
As of Monday, the number of refugees seeking shelter at the Kule camp was put at 36,000. "The remaining will be transported to other camps in Gambella," said the UNHCR spokesman.
According to a UNHCR statement issued earlier Tuesday, the number of South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia has passed the 95,000 mark. The refugee agency, meanwhile, is scrambling to fly in new tents, build new camps and move refugees to higher ground before the onset of the rainy season.
The first flight of an airlift that will transport a total of 4000 emergency tents recently arrived at Gambella's local airport, the statement said.
The first batch of 400 tents will be sent to the Lietchuor refugee camp, located 125km from Gambella town.
The remaining tents, which will arrive on six more flights in coming days, will be distributed to other camps run by the UNHCR and Ethiopia's Administration for Refugees and Returnees' Affairs in Gambella State, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the United Nations' World Food Program said it had launched a cross-border operation to supply tens of thousands of displaced South Sudanese with food.
According to the statement, the operation will send 30,000 metric tons of food from Ethiopia to South Sudan via airdrops.Last Mod: 16 Nisan 2014, 11:02