United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Facilitates Integrated Mission with State Authorities to Boro Medina

Some 70 kilometers from South Sudan’s international border with its northern neighbour, Sudan, Boro Medina in Raja County is the first major stop for thousands of refugees and returnees crossing into Western Bahr El Ghazal state since the start of the Sudan conflict.

With the nearest authorized camp for refugees hundreds of kilometers away in Northern Bahr El Ghazal state, many fleeing the Sudan crisis have had no option than to stay in Boro Medina, resulting in an exponential increase in the population of the small town.

“Our population has more than tripled and life is unbearable, particularly for those arriving from Sudan with nothing,” revealed Joseph Romano Abderhaman, administrator of the area. “There are no goods in the market, our small harvest has been exhausted,” he added.

Currently more than 5,000 asylum seekers and a little above 7,000 returnees are competing with host populations over limited livelihood resources.

This situation is exacerbated by poor road access: It takes six hours to reach the county headquarters and at least two days from the state capital during the dry season, hindering support by state authorities and humanitarian interventions.

In the backdrop of increasing protection of civilians’ concerns, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has increased its presence in this border area and is facilitating state authorities to reach Boro Medina.

A recent joint mission to the area was met with a warm welcome and also narrations about food shortages, lack of essential drugs, education, shelter and more.

“We are greatly assured by the visit of the Minister for Local Government and Law Enforcement  and his delegation,” declared Ali Mohamed Sadi, a traditional leader of the area. “My request to is for authorities to look into the plight of pregnant women who, for lack of ambulance services, cannot be transferred to the hospital in Raja to receive adequate medical attention,” he said.

The moment was opportune and the local police director made the most of it to share challenges faced in protecting civilians.

“The population of Boro Medina has become too big for the few police officers deployed here,” revealed Lieutenant Colonel Malwol Kawo. “We cannot provide adequate protection to the town when there are issues, and our work is made more difficult by the lack of transportation. We will appreciate if UNMISS can enhance the capacity of local police through training,” he added.

These messages, of course, were not falling on deaf ears.

“Protection of civilians is a priority for UNMISS, and our UN Police officers who part of this mission have noted the need to assist the local polices,” informed Norbert Niyodusenga, UNMISS Protection of Civilians Advisor in Wau.

“In addition to our regular visits to monitor the situation along this border area, we have been advocating for quick responses from humanitarian partners. We have assisted them in the transportation of much needed supplies,” he stated.

The UN’s support is appreciated by the state Commission for Relief and Rehabilitation.

“We express our gratitude to UNMISS for enabling us to come and see what is happening in the remote areas of our state,” said Basham Musa Ayaga, chairperson of the Commission. “This is the kind of collaboration we cherish, and we hope to continuously work with UNMISS to serve the people of South Sudan,” he assured.

Hundreds of refugees and returnees continue to arrive in Boro Medina daily, even as UNMISS intensifies patrols along the border crossings.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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