UNHCR restarts operation in Yei


Refugees trapped in Yei since 2016 (Photo: Refugees and migrants):

By David Mono Danga

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) resumed its assistance to refugees in Lasu Refugee Settlement of Yei River State.

The letters indicates that the area became accessible this month for the first time since 2016 when conflict erupted in Juba on 10 July and spread to Yei.

Lasu is an area located 32 kilometres from Yei town, on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The settlement in Lasu was home to about nine thousand refugees mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“UNHCR team undertook a mission to Lasu last week and we were able to assess the situation around Lasu Refugee Settlement and understand the damage the settlement and refugees have sustained since our last visit there in June 2016,” UNHCR Representative in South Sudan, Johann Siffointe said.

In the statement seen by Juba Monitor, UNHCR said the area became accessible following the establishment of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Base in Yei town.

According to the statement, the refugees and the Internally Displace Persons (IDPs) had reiterated their willingness to return, but given the volatile situation in the area, majority of them continue to remain in hide-outs.

UNHCR said continued humanitarian assistance by humanitarian partners will help re-build their confidence and prompt refugees to return to the settlement.

The statement further said UNHCR distributed humanitarian assistance to 100 refugee households but it did not mention the type of items that were provided to these households.

The Agency stated that the assistance would be provided on a regular basis as the access to the settlement was restored, adding that UNMISS had reiterated its commitment to facilitate UNHCR visits to the settlement.

“UNHCR will continue to monitor the situation and work with partners in order to plan a commensurate response to the needs of refugees and Internally displaced population in Lasu and around it,” Siffointe said.

Prior to June 2016, around 9,600 refugees were living in Lasu Refugee Settlement. Most of them had to hide in the bushes or crossed to DRC following the start of active military operations in the area.

In July, 2016 fighting broke out between President Salva Kiir’s guards and forces loyal to his then Deputy, Riek Machar Teny. Leading to the displacement of thousands of people leaving the Yei River State.

The Sudanese refugees leaving in Lasu, Yei had to flee to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for safety.

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