Sudanese Refugees Endure Lengthy Wait in Crowded Camps in South Sudan

A brand-new truck has just arrived in the town of Renk in South Sudan, carrying dozens of elderly men, women, and children. Their tired and exhausted faces reveal the hardship of their journey out of war-torn Sudan. The town is struggling to accommodate the over half a million people who have crossed the border into South Sudan in order to escape the fighting in Sudan.

Renk is only 10km away from Sudan, where the conflict between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo broke out in April last year. The two transit centers in Renk, run by the United Nations, have been overwhelmed by a constant influx of people trying to escape the violence in Sudan.

One of the refugees, Fatima Mohammed, described the dangerous journey she and her family took to escape. They were trapped between crossfire in their own street in El-Obeid city before fleeing. The journey took them five days and was made difficult by Sudanese soldiers and RSF fighters along the way.

Since the conflict began, nearly eight million people, half of them children, have fled Sudan. The UN estimates around 560,000 of these refugees are in South Sudan, and approximately 1,500 new arrivals enter the country every day. Now, many are waiting in transit camps, hoping to one day return home.

Iman David, who fled fighting in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, is among those who are still waiting. She has been in Renk for seven months, separated from her husband. The conflict in Sudan has resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and has left millions in need of humanitarian assistance.

While some hope to continue on to other towns in South Sudan, others are eager to return home. The port at Renk is busy as hundreds of people wait in line to board boats that will take them on their journey. With the approaching monsoon season, there is concern about the impact it will have on the port’s operations and people’s ability to travel.

The UN is mobilizing the international community and has launched an appeal for $4.1bn to respond to the most urgent humanitarian needs. The situation remains challenging as the conflict continues to drive more people out of Sudan.

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