Sudanese refugees rally against Yida camp relocation
Hundreds of refugees rallied in front of a UN agency in Unity state, South Sudan, against the planned shutdown of Yida camp on Thursday. Belatoma in Blue Nile was bombed on Monday.
A witness said that the crowd protested at the doorstep of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Unity. Banners expressed their rejection of the decision to close Yida and relocate the refugees to other camps.
The UNHCR plans to close Yida in June and started a registration process for the relocation of the more than 70,000 camp residents, most who have fled the armed conflict in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, on the first of February. Residents have refused to leave over security concerns in the two refugee camps where they are planned to be moved to, Ajuong Thok, and Pamir in Upper Nile.
UNHCR and the South Sudanese government have said that Yida has never been officially recognised as refugee camp. In November 2012, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres urged refugees to move because it lies dangerously close to the Sudanese border. The UNHCR representative in South Sudan said it is the most dangerous refugee site in the country at that time.
Ajuong Thok is 2 kilometres further away from the border than Yida is (14 km), while Pamir is located at a similar distance from the border in Upper Nile. Last year Ajuong Thok held nearly 31,000 refugees.
An Antonov plane of the Sudanese Air Force dropped four bombs in the area of Belatoma, in Kurmuk, on Monday evening. Local Omda Yahya Tula Yola told Radio Dabanga that they heard a huge explosion that released “a peculiar smell”.
He said that the aerial bombardment did not cause casualties among the residents but caused panic among them. Children and women make up the majority of Belatoma.
“A white substance can be seen in the shrapnel of the exploded bombs,” Yola said, citing concerns of the local population.
Photos below: Local shows the craters and shrapnel caused by the bombs in Belatoma (RD)
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