Accessibility links

Breaking News

South Sudan Refugees in Sudan Repatriate

FILE: Civilians who fled Sudan's conflict arrive in a bus at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) transit center in Renk, near the border crossing point in Renk County of Upper Nile State, South Sudan May 1, 2023.

RENK, SOUTH SUDAN - Up to last month, more than 800,000 South Sudanese refugees lived in Sudan. But since the fighting erupted in Khartoum, the UNHCR has registered more than 30,000 people crossing into South Sudan, more than 90% of them South Sudanese.

The last place Lina Mijok wanted to go as she fled fighting in Sudan was back to her own country, South Sudan, which she had left as civil war erupted in 2013.

But when Sudan's army started battling the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in the streets around to her home last month, South Sudan was the only place she and her two young children could reach.

"I would not have come back to South Sudan. I would have gone anywhere, but I had no choice," the 26-year-old said.

She had managed to carve out a new life for herself as a housemaid in the city of Omdurman, across the River Nile from Sudan's capital Khartoum.

Then the shots started ringing out and her family had to pack up and leave that behind them - all of them apart from Mijok's husband.

He had to stay behind as they did not have enough money to pay for his place on the trucks and buses that carried Mijok, their son and their daughter to the border.

They are now among thousands camping out in South Sudan's Renk County, in a dilapidated university campus, its buildings pockmarked by bullets from fighting a decade ago.

"The heat is killing us and some people have gone four days without eating, and there is no place to sleep, and the children are getting sick," Mijok said. She hopes the United Nations will help her move to another country.

Like Mijok, Suzan William, 36, fled the civil war in 2013 and rebuilt her life in Sudan, working as a nurse in Khartoum. Now she is back in her homeland, camping in Renk with her four children.

"People say there is no stability in South Sudan, so we decided to build houses in Sudan. But now also there is no stability in Sudan. What should we do? We don’t know."

"South Sudan is one of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ most underfunded crises already and we are now mobilizing to support this new influx," agency spokesperson Charlotte Hallqvist said. "We urge the international community not to forget about South Sudan."