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Archive for March 30th, 2012

South Sudanese children at a protest against Israeli government directive to return home

Posted by African Press International on March 30, 2012

ISRAEL: Deportation looms for South Sudan migrants

South Sudanese children at a protest against Israeli government directive to return home by the end of March

TEL AVIV,  – Asylum-seekers from South Sudan living in Israel have until 31 March to return “home” or face deportation, but some have asked to stay, saying conditions are not yet conducive for their safe return.

According to Israeli Interior Minister Sabine Haddad, South Sudan nationals living in Israel will no longer be given protected status after the deadline. Until then, he added, they will be offered voluntary deportation and around US$1,300.

But Natalina, a 46-year-old single mother of three who arrived in Israel six years ago after spending 12 years is Cairo, said she would find it difficult to leave. “I don’t want to take [the children] back because I know their lives will change dramatically,” she told IRIN. “I have no one in Sudan, I know no one there – no family, nothing. I haven’t been there in 18 years, I am a single Mum and I cannot afford to pay for medical treatment and education in South Sudan.”

Natalina, whose three children aged 7, 9 and 15 are enrolled in Israeli schools, said she and some 700 other South Sudanese asylum-seekers received notice from the Ministry of Interior three months ago, asking them to report for repatriation by 31 March 2012 or be declared illegal aliens in Israel.

“I do not wish to see my children suffer. We’ve had meetings with the Israeli government but they will not give us answers. If they decide to do this (send asylum-seekers back) by 31 March, I will disappear, I cannot go back,” said Natalina, a prominent leader of the small community of South Sudanese in Israel.

The Israeli authorities, in a January letter circulated among the South Sudanese community, said the new state was safe.


Over the past two years, some 1,200 asylum-seekers returned to South Sudan under a repatriation programme arranged by NGOs, even before that country got independence. Some sources said the returnees were being encouraged to leave by the harsh conditions in which the community lives, and the xenophobia directed at them by Israelis.

Last week, some South Sudanese and Israelis held a protest in Tel Aviv against “forced repatriation”, saying it was against international treaties and contrary to new information about the state of security in South Sudan. The Israeli Foreign Ministry rejected the claims.

“We are going to be ready, we do not want to go back,” said Simon, a South Sudanese community leader who left his country 17 years ago. “We don’t want to stay in Israel, but our country is not safe, our children know nothing of Sudan.”

Of the 700 asylum-seekers who received notice, he said, nearly 400 were children under 18. Israeli authorities believe the overall number of South Sudanese is around 1,000.

“We are not asking to stay forever, but to be given enough time until the new state recovers somewhat,” Simon explained. “I know of many repatriated community members who were forced to flee again to the north, to Kenya or Uganda. South Sudan is only seven months old and still a failed state.”




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Water is getting costlier in parts of Somaliland

Posted by African Press International on March 30, 2012

SOMALIA: Border town in a fix over water

Water is getting costlier in parts of Somaliland

HARGEISA,  – Water scarcity in Tog-Wajale, a town straddling the border between northwest Somalia’s self-declared republic of Somaliland and Ethiopia, is threatening the health and livelihoods of locals who cannot afford to buy it.

“One barrel of water [200 litres] was only 20 [Ethiopian] birr [US$1], but the price has now reached about 50 Ethiopian birr [$2.5],” said Ahmed Jama Weirah, a father of seven in Tog-Wajale. “We can’t provide for our families… because our earnings are not enough to provide food and water.”

The Somaliland side of Tog-Wajale has had no official water supply since 1995, following the closure of the town’s only well, which had fallen into disrepair. The town’s main water sources are a seasonal river that acts as the border between Somaliland and Ethiopia, and expensive pumped water from Ethiopia.

“Now the [river] water is over and we can’t afford to buy imported water,” said Weirah.

“While livestock have been moved further north where they can find water, townsfolk face water scarcity,” said Abdillahi Omar, a resident. “Some families use less than 20 litres per day to cook meals, and they don’t take a bath for several days.”

Local officials told IRIN they hoped the rains would start soon, but were focusing on long-term solutions.

The dysfunctional well used to supply less than 2,000 litres of water a day, so repairing it would not provide sufficient water for the town’s estimated 40,000 people (up from 10,000 in 1995), said Hashi Mohamed Abdi, the mayor of Tog-Wajale. 

Currently about 20,000 litres are pumped from Ethiopia every day, “which is not enough”, he said, adding that water was also trucked in from Kalabiat and Gabiley to the northeast of Tog-Wajale.

However, the future looks brighter as the European Union (EU) has agreed to fund a water project in the town.

The EU is funding water projects in several Somaliland towns, including Hargeisa, Burao, Erigavo and Tog-Wajale; the Tog-Wajale water project is due for completion in 2015. 




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Chronic water shortages causes fighting at the water point

Posted by African Press International on March 30, 2012

SUDAN-SOUTH SUDAN: Hamid Yussef Bashir, “People end up fighting at the water point”

“It took 17 days to walk here”

JAMAM,  – Hamid Yussef Bashir, 30, is one of around 37,000 refugees in Jamam camp in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State, a place beleaguered by chronic water shortages, a diet of sorghum that refugees say is not enough, and where most residents are camped on a floodplain weeks ahead of the rainy season.

Aid agencies are also battling problems of drilling enough boreholes and pre-positioning enough food before the rains come. The USA has warned of famine-like conditions in Upper Nile and neighbouring South Kordofan State in Sudan where government forces are battling rebels and Sudanese President Omar al Bashir has restricted humanitarian aid. Jamam’s population is expected to swell to up to 80,000 when food north of the border runs out, if people can make the arduous journey through battlefields and escape aerial bombardment.

Huddled next to a makeshift tent with his five children crouching round the embers of a morning fire, Hamid Yussef Bashir recounts the story of how and why he fled Sudan’s war-torn Blue Nile State:

“When we see the Antonov [plane] activities we’re not really comfortable, that’s when we took the decision to leave because we were really in fear.

“When we saw the soldiers killed by the bombardment, that’s when we got scared and decided to go for hiding. A lot of people died on the way when they tried to escape. It was raining. There were no shelters, so most of them lost their lives trying to come this side.

“It took 17 days to walk here.

“We were facing hunger on the way, and that’s how other people starved to death, and with the rains, a lot of people lost their lives from pneumonia.

“The water here is not enough… People end up fighting at the water point. People stay at the long queue all day, so you end up only doing one thing and not doing any other activities – only fetching water. 

“We used to have an income from goods, we used to have livestock. When we were coming here most of them died on the way, and now we are living only on sorghum. 

“We don’t have anything extra to do to bring money in, so we only wait for the sorghum, nothing else. It’s not enough.

“If I go back home I will suffer, as I know there is nothing to eat. So I don’t think that I will go back, as I won’t survive.

“I only hope for the best life for my children. If they can get education and feed well that will be better for them.”





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