The United Nations Refuge Agency (UNHCR) said it deeply saddened by the tragic death of a refugee and two local South Sudanese who sustained fatal injuries during an incident in Upper Nile’s Doro refugee camp on Monday.
Although the agency said its staff were gathering details on the circumstances of the deaths, initial reports reportedly suggest that members of the host communities and refugees clashed on Monday during a football match organised as part of UNHCR’s efforts to promote peaceful coexistence among communities.
South Sudan, according to UNHCR, currently hosts more than 266,000 refugees, mostly from South Kordofan and Blue Nile States in Sudan and that over 134,000 refugees live in four camps in Upper Nile state’s Maban county.
Tensions, UNHCR said, have been growing between the two communities for weeks over the alleged theft of pigs and goats. Refugees and locals, it said, have traded accusations over livestock looting but that further investigation was required to confirm the facts.
According to UNHCR, the incident led to further inter-community violence and deterioration of the security situation in Maban, resulting into several injuries while a number of houses were also burnt to the ground on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“This is an act of senseless violence and our thoughts and prayers are with those families who have lost their loved ones,” said UNHCR Representative Ahmed Warsame.
Meanwhile, UNHCR promised in coordination with South Sudan’s Commission for Refugee Affairs continue to engage the local authorities and representatives of both the refugee and host community to help calm down the volatile situation.
Following the incident in Upper Nile state, UN peacekeepers immediately deployed to the scene to support the local authorities in re-establishing order and have established a buffer zone between the Sudanese and South Sudanese populations.
“We are very concerned with reports of the heightened presence of armed groups in Maban camps as well as weapons circulation,” says Warsame.
“Whilst deeply appreciating the hospitality and generosity of South Sudan and its people towards refugees, we strongly appeal to the authorities to provide safety and security to those in need and to ensure the civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps. UNHCR will continue to work with communities and partners to enhance social cohesion and to promote redress and reconciliation in Maban," he added.