South Sudan's Yida Refugee Camp: Place of Refuge and Peril

From Enough blogs Tue Nov 20 2012, 16:31:47

Adhel* lost her husband and one of her children earlier this year when the Sudanese Armed Forces, or SAF, bombed her town in South Kordofan. "It's a mess, many people were captured, others scattered, others came here, and others killed." The Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, were not present in her town during the attacks. Now "the child inside her womb has no father," said the Nuba translator.

The first attack on her village was a ground attack, but subsequent attacks have been from the air. "Antonovs are bombing civilian areas," she said, describing regularly seeking refuge in nearby mountains and forests whenever her village came under bombardment. Though bombings have been off and on since the war started in June 2011, Adhel only arrived in Yida refugee camp in South Sudan on November 5. Enough spoke to her two days later. Adhel explained that she had resisted making the journey earlier because she was pregnant and had to take care of her other four children on her own. She finally made the journey because she was "tired of the suffering."

Since fighting between the SAF and the SPLM-N started in South Kordofan almost a year and a half ago, the stories of displacement by aerial bombardment, food shortages, and militia attacks that refugees tell remain the same. A new influx of refugees to South Sudan is expected when the dry season begins, at which point fighting tends to escalate and roads become passable. Yida refugee camp is situated about a stone's throw away from the border with Sudan. While the number of new refugees entering the camp has decreased from its highest levels during the summer, the camp receives new arrivals daily.

Abuk, another recent arrival to Yida, described how her town of Um Dulu experienced frequent aerial attacks. She described occasions during which the SAF bombed from the air while ground forces hid in the river and shot civilians from there. Abuk had stayed in her village because she thought the security situation ...

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