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SSudan Nationals Escape Sudan Clashes

FILE - A woman carries her belongings as she flees amid fighting between the army and paramilitaries in Khartoum on April 19, 2023
FILE - A woman carries her belongings as she flees amid fighting between the army and paramilitaries in Khartoum on April 19, 2023

JUBA — The Commissioner of Renk County in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state said thousands of South Sudanese and other foreign nationals have arrived in the county fleeing the continued fighting in neighboring Sudan.

Commissioner Kak Padiet Kak said around 3,000 South Sudanese nationals and some foreigners ,who looked visibly exhausted after covering an over 500-kilometer road trip, have arrived in Renk County over the past few days.

Kak said of the arrivals, more than 100 include foreign nationals from Uganda, Kenya, among others who escaped the fighting in Khartoum.

Tough conditions

Juliana Juan, a South Sudanese national, escaped from Khartoum after witnessing heavy fighting Sudan's capital. She told VOA Monday that her journey from Khartoum to South Sudan was a nightmare.

Juan said she was in Khartoum to look after her sick aunt, and both were caught up in the fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces and the paramilitary, Rapid Support Forces.

"There is no electricity, no water, no shop open, no internet, airtime and no one was able to leave their house. There was no update on what is happening in Khartoum and we don’t even know when the fighting will stop," Juan said of her experience while in Khartoum.

Juan said she decided to escape by road through the Sudanese border town of Kosti to Renk in South Sudan.

"If you don't have the money you will not make it. When I left Khartoum, boarded the bus with $90 and when I reached Rabat I paid almost 30,000 (Sudanese pounds) then I paid another 30,000 (Sudanese pounds). I paid another 50 (Sudanese pounds) to come to Renk and the worst part is from Renk to Paloich," she said.

Juan said the journey was expensive, long and tiresome, adding there are many South Sudanese who could not complete the trip from Khartoum.

Renk's commissioner, Kak Padiet Kak, told VOA most of the South Sudanese and refugees now in the country are coming from various locations and the number is likely to increase in the coming days. He said most of the refugees who made it through the long journey from Khartoum to Renk are in bad shape.

"Women and children are the majority, there were few men only. They are tired, exhausted and thirsty. I don't want to request either food or money or anything else but I need fuel to transport these people because if we transport them inside Renk they will find food to eat. We need fuel," Kak said.

Humanitarian response

Chairperson of South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission Manase Lomole Waya said his office has plans for South Sudanese escaping the fighting in Khartoum.

"We have got three lorries that are based in Ruweng, they will go to crossing point at Joda and bring people to Renk. We don’t have enough money for fuel but UNHCR has offered to give us some fuel to help in the transportation of our citizens," Waya said.

Waya says his office is engaging some humanitarian agencies including the WFP to provide assistance to South Sudanese nationals who are returning from Sudan.

VOA reporters Deng Ghai Deng and Viola Elias contributed to this report.