National, News

Gambela refugees in crisis-lawmaker

By Bida Elly David


A member of parliament representing Nasir County, Upper Nile State, has raised concerns about the dire humanitarian situation of South Sudanese refugees returning from Ethiopia’s Gambella region.

Moch Rech Tang disclosed to No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper that the camps in the Gambella region with South Sudan refugees are shocking, stating that the refugees have died of hunger.

“There is Pinyudo, Kule 1 and 2, and Nguenyyiel; those areas are the places where people are suffering with no food, shelter, or mosquito nets,” he disclosed.

“For the last three months, no food has come to them, and people are dying,” said Tang.

He reported that hundreds of refugees from three camps have begun trekking back to their homes, with some reaching their destinations.

The lawmaker said despite calls for repatriation, the government and humanitarian organizations have declined assistance.

“We have no people who have reached Juba, but people have reached Nasir, Akobo, Ulang, and Maiwut County in Upper Nile State,” Moch stated.

The lawmaker, however, did not disclose the number of refugees who have made the painful journey back home.

“They have reached those areas, but there is a lot of water (flooding) and starvation, among others. I will not say exactly about the estimate made by the local NGOs, but there is more coming,” Tang affirmed.

He urged humanitarian organizations and the government, through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, to ensure the repatriation of refugees who wanted to return home.

MP Tang argued that the suffering people belong to South Sudan, so the government has no right to deny them.

“What we need to do as a country is prioritize the peace agreement because everything happening now is connected with the peace agreement. It is a concern and a blueprint to solve problems,” he said.

Recently, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the first vice president, said during World Peace Day that over 75,000 refugees still face serious humanitarian situations that need the government’s intervention.

According to a recent report by UNOCHA, about 20,000 South Sudanese refugees vacated Ethiopia due to a humanitarian crisis.

“Since August 1, about 20,000 South Sudanese refugees from Ethiopia have been recorded returning to South Sudan through seven official entry points. They arrived in Jonglei/Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) and Upper Nile states,” OCHA stated.

It further revealed that the return from Ethiopia is a result of the suspension of food assistance in refugee camps in Gambella, Ethiopia, compounded by a rise in intercommunal fighting, which has threatened the security of many refugees in the Gambella region.

OCHA worried that the returnee influx is adding to the already worsening humanitarian situation in South Sudan following the impact of the Sudan crisis.

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