The Sudan conflict has forced thousands of people to flee their homes, including Eritrean refugees who have found themselves caught in a desperate situation. Paloich Airport, usually bustling with workers servicing South Sudan’s oil fields, has been transformed into a makeshift camp for those seeking refuge. However, the conditions at the camp are dire, with no proper facilities or information about when they can leave. This article sheds light on the plight of Eritrean refugees, who are experiencing a second displacement and are now trapped between two crises.
Refugees at Paloich Airport
The refugees, including Eritreans, have traveled to Paloich in the hope of finding a way out of the conflict. Many of them arrived in Sudan earlier to escape the hardships in Eritrea. Unfortunately, they find themselves in limbo, facing the harsh reality of living without basic amenities. Tesfit Girmay, one of the refugees, describes the dire conditions and expresses concern for families with children who are particularly vulnerable in such circumstances.
Eritreans who have fled to South Sudan find themselves trapped due to various reasons. While other nationals have been repatriated by their governments, Eritreans fear returning to their homeland or see no future there. Mr. Tesfit reveals that Eritreans at the airport are prevented from boarding flights to the country’s capital, Juba. Simultaneously, they are reluctant to go to the designated refugee camps within South Sudan, adding to their plight.
The Overflowing Temporary Camp in Renk
A three-hour drive north of Paloich leads to Renk, where another temporary camp has emerged to accommodate over 6,000 people. The former grounds of the Upper Nile University now teem with refugees, with even the bushes being cleared to make space for more arrivals. Within this camp, a woman from Eritrea shares her story of escaping religious restrictions and her struggles in her home country.
Complications in Repatriation and Assistance
Efforts to repatriate Eritrean refugees face complexities as some individuals refuse to return home and remain disconnected from their embassy. South Sudan’s acting Minister for Foreign Affairs acknowledges these challenges but assures that contact has been made with all foreign embassies, including Eritrea’s, to facilitate repatriation. However, the situation remains difficult, with reports of Eritreans being forced back to Paloich after reaching Juba.
Overwhelmed Infrastructure and Uncertain Future
South Sudan, already grappling with its own challenges, faces an overwhelming task of accommodating the influx of refugees. The limited infrastructure, including insufficient roads and domestic flights, exacerbates the situation. Additionally, pockets of violence from the previous civil war still persist, further complicating the prospects for a stable future. As the war in neighboring Sudan continues, the number of people seeking refuge in South Sudan continues to rise.
The Sudan conflict has displaced numerous individuals, including Eritrean refugees who find themselves trapped in South Sudan. Paloich Airport and the temporary camp in Renk have become their refuge, offering little in terms of facilities and information about their fate. The challenges of repatriation, limited infrastructure, and ongoing violence create a bleak and uncertain future for both nationals and foreigners seeking shelter. As the crisis unfolds, urgent action and international support are required to alleviate the plight of these vulnerable individuals and find a lasting solution to the conflicts affecting the region.