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Displacement crisis threatens to overwhelm South Sudan

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 16 Dec 2011 13:07 GMT
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LONDON (AlertNet) - A major displacement crisis threatens to overwhelm South Sudan's fledgling government, which is already struggling to provide security and basic services to its people, a relief group has said.

The world's newest country, which won independence from Sudan in July, is hosting tens of thousands of people who have fled from northern border states where Khartoum's army has been fighting insurgents for months.

Resources are being further stretched by up to 330,000 people displaced by violence within South Sudan's borders this year and an influx of 350,000 South Sudanese returning home following independence, Refugees International (RI) said in a report.

"If this displacement crisis is not adequately addressed, all positive efforts now being made to incorporate returnees into the social, political and economic fabric of South Sudan will be short-lived," it added.

The warning came as the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said around 2.7 million people in South Sudan would need food aid from next year due to crop failures brought on by erratic rains and violence from various armed conflicts.

Here's a summary of the displacement crisis from RI's report based on research done in September and October:

Displacement in and refugees from Sudan's Southern Kordofan state: Months of bombing and fighting has created a dire humanitarian situation in Southern Kordofan, with more than 300,000 people displaced in areas controlled by rebel SPLM-N forces, RI said. More than 20,000 people have fled across the border to South Sudan's Unity State.

Sudan's Blue Nile state: Clashes between Sudanese government forces and SPLM-N fighers have forced 30,000 people to flee Blue Nile state to South Sudan. Some 30,000 others have fled to Ethiopia.

Abyei border area: Around 100,000 people fled the border areas of Abyei in May this year before South Sudan's secession from Sudan due to fighting between the Sudanese army and South Sudan's SPLA forces. Many of the displaced fled south.

South Sudan's internally displaced: Since the beginning of the year, some 330,000 people have been uprooted by violence within South Sudan as different militia groups fought to win political concessions from the Juba government, RI said.

South Sudan's returnees: In the past year, at least 350,000 so-called returnees - southerners living in Sudan - began the journey back home. Many faced problems getting onward transport from transit sites.

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