S.Sudan refugees homeless after police demolitions
KHARTOUM - Thousands of South Sudanese refugees have been left homeless in Khartoum after Sudanese police demolished their shelters over the past few months, the UN refugee agency said Thursday.
More than 450,000 South Sudanese refugees have entered Sudan after a brutal civil war erupted in their country in December 2013, the UN says. Khartoum estimates there are some 1.3 million of them in the country.
Over the past few months, Sudan's police have been demolishing the shelters of refugees living in Khartum or relocating them without "adequate planning", the UNHCR said.
"Latest reports indicate that some 220 shelters in Dar es-Salam's open area were removed by police on 23 October, reportedly leaving some 2,000 South Sudanese refugees without shelter" in Khartoum, the refugee agency said in a statement.
Others have been relocated to sites in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum on the western banks of the Nile, resulting in "over-crowding, inadequate shelter and over-stretched water and sanitation facilities", it added.
About 35,500 South Sudanese refugees live in so-called "open areas" in Khartoum, and the government has been considering to move them to more sustainable locations.
"Pending these longer-term options, UNHCR is hopeful that the immediate humanitarian needs of the South Sudanese refugees in Khartoum will be addressed in a timely manner to avoid unnecessary suffering," the UNHCR said.
Last week Sudan's Interior Minister Hamid Mnan told parliament that the authorities were awaiting an order from President Omar al-Bashir as to where to relocate the refugees.
Fleeing war and famine in their country, South Sudanese refugees continue to arrive at a steady rate into Sudan even now, with about 185,000 arriving in 2017, the UNHCR said.
South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, descended into civil war just two years after it split from the north in 2011.
Thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced by the violence, which briefly plunged part of the country into famine earlier this year.
The United States, the European Union and other global donors have regularly acknowledged Khartoum's role in welcoming the refugees from across the border.
Khartoum's overall approach towards the refugees had been a key element considered by Washington while lifting its 20-year-old trade sanctions imposed on Sudan. The embargo was officially lifted on October 12.