In a distressing turn of events, families escaping violence and turmoil in Sudan are arriving in remote areas of northern South Sudan. These displaced individuals are seeking refuge in a region where humanitarian organizations are grappling with the immense challenge of providing emergency assistance.
Among those affected is Umjuma Achol Mut, a 29-year-old woman who fled her home in Bentiu, South Sudan, back in 2016, scarred by the brutal violence that forced her to escape. She initially sought refuge in a camp in Ethiopia’s Gambella region but later moved to Sudan in the hope of rebuilding her life. Unfortunately, when conflict erupted in Sudan in April, she and her family had to make a perilous journey across the border into South Sudan.
The crisis is further exacerbated by the rainy season and a severe lack of donor funding, which is impeding efforts to relocate people away from the border. This has worsened the already dire humanitarian situation in the overcrowded transit center located in the border town of Renk.
The influx of South Sudanese returnees and refugees from Sudan is putting immense strain on the limited resources of a country that is still recovering from a prolonged civil war and the devastating consequences of climate change. Aid agencies are grappling with a multitude of challenges, including inadequate funding, poor access to affected regions, and inadequate infrastructure.
To address this dire situation, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners have established a presence at border crossing points in South Sudan. Their primary mission is to monitor and provide assistance to new arrivals, who are primarily South Sudanese refugees returning to their home country. In partnership with other organizations, transit centers have been set up where new arrivals receive essential supplies such as food, water, and communal shelter. These centers also serve as a staging point to facilitate onward transportation to their desired destinations or home areas. UNHCR is additionally assisting families in reuniting with their relatives inside South Sudan.
Umjuma Achol Mut, one of those affected, intends to make her way back to Gambella, where she hopes her children can resume their education as they begin the arduous process of rebuilding their lives.
Written by: Kevin Nwabueze