The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that flooding has hindered transfer of South Sudanese refugees to new relocation sites in Sudan’s White Nile state.
Last December, the humanitarian commissioner in Khartoum state, Mustafa al-Sinarri announced the relocation of South Sudanese refugees Khartoum state to the While Nile state, adding it was decided to build new refugees camps near the border.
The operation aims to establish camps to provide the refugees with the adequate services as Khartoum state, which hosts over 150,000 South Sudanese who preferred to remain in Sudan at the independence, failed to provide land for the construction of new camps.
According to the UNHCR, an estimated 119,950 South Sudanese refugees have arrived in Sudan as of 15 January seeking refuge since violence erupted in South Sudan in December 2013.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) newsletter quoted the UNCHR as saying that flooding in White Nile state, caused by the closing to the Jebel Awlia dam, has affected El Redis, El Redis 2 and Jouri relocation sites, noting that access and delivery of basic services to these refugees have been hindered.
It added the flooding has also forced humanitarian actors to temporarily suspend the relocation of refugees from El Redis to El Redis 2 relocation sites.
Earlier this month, the World Food Programme (WFP) reported that it urgently requires $10 million to meet the needs of South Sudanese refugees in Sudan for the next six months.
UNHCR’s regional response plan most likely scenario projects that 196,000 refugees from South Sudan will have arrived in Sudan by the end of 2015.
South Sudan’s armed opposition office in Uganda dismissed as “rubbish” Juba’s allegations that the former set on fire oil facilities in oil-rich Unity state this week.
Juba accused rebels of burning an oil facility under their control in Unity state, including oil installations in Pariang county, reportedly set alight on Monday.
But David Otim, the head of rebels’ diplomatic office in Uganda refuted government’s claims, describing it as propaganda to tarnish the opposition’s image.
“Reports we received from the militarily on ground indicate the government was responsible for the violation by trying to regain more territories under our forces”, said Otim.
“That one is a desperate militarily maneuver from the defeated forces of President Salva Kiir. Our forces have never attacked any oil installation,” he added.
The rebel official, however, insisted military options would not resolve the ongoing conflict, which has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced nearly two million.
The latest incident comes after South Sudan army (SPLA) downplayed threats from rebel forces earlier this month, saying it remains in full control of oil fields in both Unity and Upper Nile states.
South Sudan’s oil production has decreased to one quarter of its usual output since conflict broke out in mid-December 2013 following an internal political dispute in the ruling SPLM party.
Production has ceased in Unity state and only barrels in Upper Nile are functional, according to officials.
The latest incident violates an agreement brokered by China in Khartoum on 12 January in which both government and rebel forces committed to protecting oil facilities and foreign workers.
China is the largest investor in South Sudan’s oil industry, the country’s main source of revenue.
Although peace talks between the warring parties, which are being mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have so far failed to yield a lasting political settlement to the crisis, despite growing international pressure for both sides to set aside their differences.
13 killed in S. Sudan ambush, army blames LRA
At least 13 people, including three local journalists, were killed in an ambush by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group, in the remote Raja County in the northern part of South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal State.
“The LRA laid an ambush for a convoy that was being led by the commissioner of the county,” Army spokesperson Philip Aguer told The Anadolu Agency in Juba on Monday.
“Unfortunately, the vehicle that was carrying civilians and journalists from Western Bahr el Ghazal and accompanying the commissioner fell into the ambush and three journalists and other civilians – including women and children – were killed,” he said.
Aguer put the death toll at 13.
“The commissioner was wounded and is in hospital,” he said. “This is a very unfortunate incident.”
The LRA’s rebellion was first launched more than two decades ago.
It is estimated that between 200 and 500 of the group’s fighters have terrorized local communities across the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
The African Union (AU) should immediately publish the report of the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, said Amnesty International, Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, FIDH (the International Federation for Human Rights), and the South Sudan Law Society.
Their joint call comes ahead of the AU summit, amid concern that the ongoing delay in the publication of the report is impacting on the urgent need for accountability for crimes committed in South Sudan.
“Three months after the Commission of Inquiry submitted its report to the AU, its findings and recommendations are yet to see the light of day,” said Edmund Yakani, director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization. “In the meantime the conflict in South Sudan is continuing unabated with dire impacts on the civilian population.”
Over the past year, all parties to the conflict have committed crimes under international law that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, including attacks on civilians often based on ethnicity or perceived political allegiance, sexual violence, and wide-spread destruction and looting of civilian property.
The Commission of Inquiry ended investigations in August and submitted its final report to the Chairperson of the AU Commission in October 2014. Since then it has not been made public.
The AU Peace and Security Council will consider the situation in South Sudan and the report of the Commission of Inquiry on 29 January.
The organizations also called on the AU to insist that there be accountability for violations of human rights and humanitarian law that have taken place in South Sudan. Publishing the report, along with a regional commitment to ensure accountability, could play an important role in deterring further crimes as well as ending the conflict.