GENEVA, Switzerland, February 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM Ethiopia last week safely relocated 425 South Sudanese refugees by boat and bus from Akobo-Tergol to Pugnido camp in Gambella region 430 km away.
The two-day journey for the ethnic Anuak refugees included a nine-hour, 130 km boat trip from Tergol to Burbeiy and an overnight stay en route.
IOM will organize similar movements using the same route for ethnic Nuer refugees also stranded in Akobo-Tergol. The Nuer will be moved to Lietchuor camp, to reduce the risk of conflict between the two groups.
UNHCR has currently registered 10,000 South Sudanese refugees at Akobo-Tergol, where the Akobo river marks the border between South Sudan and Ethiopia. This figure could rise to over 12,000, according to IOM staff on the ground.
Refugees at Akobo-Tergol told IOM that they face a desperate situation if they stay. “At first, we were given some food assistance, but that is finished now. We are now going to the woods to fetch wild fruit to feed our children. Some of us are fetching fire wood and selling it in exchange for food. But that is not enough. Most of us are just scraping by on one meal a day,” said one refugee.
Lietchuor and Pugnido camps can currently accommodate a total of 60,000 refugees. This will rise to 80,000 when Lietchuor camp’s capacity is expanded from 20,000 to 40,000.
Refugees fleeing to Ethiopia from South Sudan are mainly leaving Nasir and Malakal and using the Akobo Tergol and Pagak entry points into Ethiopia’s Gambella region.
IOM Ethiopia has now provided transportation for a total of 11,827 South Sudan refugees to date.
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