Hungry people flee Sudan’s South Kordofan warAgence France-Presse . Khartoum
A gunfight outside a police station one year ago on Tuesday marked the start of a war that has forced increasing numbers of hungry people to flee Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
Despite months of international concern over malnutrition and food shortages, the government, citing security factors, continues to tightly control access by foreign aid agencies to the area.
There are no reliable figures on how many people have died in the aerial bombing, shelling and fire-fights across the region’s partly-wooded plains and dry, craggy hills where Khartoum’s forces are battling rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).
But the United Nations has reported a steadily increasing number of residents moving from South Kordofan over the border to the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan’s Unity state.
‘Throughout the month of May, an average of 430 people per day have been arriving in the settlement, a 47 per cent increase on the April arrival rate,’ the UN’s humanitarian agency OCHA said in its latest weekly bulletin.
‘I think that there is a disaster,’ said Jonah Leff, of the Small Arms Survey, a Swiss-based independent research project with a focus on Sudan. ‘It sounds like people there are eating off of trees, eating leaves, and malnutrition rates among children are very high.’
On Monday, the UN refugee agency said 35,000 refugees arrived on foot in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state over the past three weeks from Blue Nile, where a war similar to that in South Kordofan began in September.
The new arrivals were in ‘shockingly bad’ condition, said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.
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