Sudanese army-affiliated militia forces attacked a group of about 5,000 people fleeing conflict in Blue Nile state to refugee camps across the border in South Sudan, a rebel spokesman said.
The United Nations refugee agency said it’s concerned about the group, which was expected to arrive in South Sudan’s oil-rich Upper Nile state earlier this week. Arnu Lodi, spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, said the internally displaced people remain trapped by militia forces and are unable to move toward the border.
“Some of them were killed and wounded and they are suffering from lack of food and medicine,” Lodi said by phone today from Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. Sudanese army spokesman al-Sawarmi Khaled had his mobile phone switched off when called for comment.
South Sudan hosts about 180,000 refugees fleeing conflict in the Sudanese states of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan, according to the UN refugee agency. About 2,800 Southern Kordofan refugees were registered at Yida camp in Unity state over the past week, it said yesterday.
The agency has set up way stations to welcome and process refugees when they arrive, spokeswoman Melita Sunjic said by phone today from Juba, the South Sudanese capital.
“It’s quite obvious that they are hiding somewhere because of fighting on the ground or they’ve been attacked,” she said.
The refugees are fleeing fighting between government forces and rebels that broke out in June 2011 in Southern Kordofan and spread to neighboring Blue Nile the following September. The rebels were formerly part of the revolutionary army that fought a two-decade civil war that led to the South’s independence last year, before they were left on the Sudanese side of the border after secession.