Just $18 Million Needed to Save Desperate Humans

Human Wrongs Watch

While global spending on weapons is set up to further increase in spite of the economic recession, four major UN agencies and their aid partners have just appealed for $18.3 million to help tens of thousands of refugees who are fleeing into western Ethiopia to escape violence in Sudan’s Blue Nile state.

Credit: UN

The joint appeal by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and their partner agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), is intended to help up to 35,000 refugees.

Both Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states, which lie next to Sudan’s border with South Sudan, have been the scene of deadly fighting in recent weeks.

An estimated 25,000 refugees have arrived in Ethiopia since September 3rd, when the influx started, UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards said.

More and More Refugees

With hostilities still ongoing in Sudan’s Blue Nile state, we expect the numbers to continue rising,” he said, adding that new aerial bombings were reported as recently as September 26th.

Refugees told UNHCR staff they had fled fighting around Damazine, the capital of Blue Nile state, and had walked for up to a week to reach safety, Edwards stated.

In recent weeks people have been moving back and forth across the border, but now more of those coming across are families carrying household belongings and bringing livestock with them.

Sleeping in the Open

Most of the refugees are staying in local communities around Kurmuk,” said Edwards. “Many are sleeping in the open, presenting increased risk of illness and disease.

An additional concern is the safety of refugees in villages near Kurmuk, because of the area’s proximity to locations in Sudan where bombing is ongoing,” he added.

UNHCR and the Ethiopian government are seeking to relocate refugees to the camp at Sherkole camp, some 50 kilometres to the south-east, where basic services and better protection can be provided.

More than 3,000 people have been moved so far and the pace of relocations is expected to increase as more refugee community leaders come forward to request relocation.

Fighting Continue

Fighting between the Sudanese armed forces and rebels in the country’s Blue Nile state continue, displacing tens of thousands of people who cannot be reached by relief agencies due to movement restrictions imposed by the government, the UN humanitarian office reported.

The fighting pits government forces against the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM- N) and was previously confined to Southern Kordofan state before it spread to neighbouring Blue Nile last week.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update that little is known about the situation in Blue Nile, particularly in the SPLM-N controlled areas, due to lack of access. More than 100,000 people are thought to be displaced.

Restricting the Movement of UN Staff

A movement restriction imposed by the government on UN staff remains in place in both Sennar and Blue Nile states.

WFP received official requests for food assistance to communities displaced from Blue Nile. However, due to government-imposed restrictions on pre-positioning of food stocks in Blue Nile, WFP has only enough stocks to feed 20,000 people for two weeks.

Related: http://www.un.org/apps/news/printnews.asp?nid=39821

2011 Human Wrongs Watch

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