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South Sudan expecting refugee influx

Nov. 15, 2012 at 12:27 PM

JUBA, South Sudan, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- An ICRC official in South Sudan said the agency is expecting an influx of refugees fleeing Sudan as the rainy season subsides.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was working to install water distribution networks in areas along the Sudanese border hit by water shortages. Nearby, however, Adrian Zimmerman, in charge of ICRC operations in South Sudan, said thousands of refugees had to wade through waste-high water to reach refugee camps.

"Now the dry season is upon us, it will be easier for people to move," he said in a statement. "There is a real possibility more refugees reach the camps."

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees last week said it was starting to prepare for an influx of as many as 30,000 new refugees before the end of the year.

The United Nations this week expressed concern about fighting in Abyei, a disputed border region. Border conflicts are strained by issues left over from a 2005 peace agreement that ended the Sudanese civil war and brought independence last year to South Sudan.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan expressed concern in early November after a staff member was given 48 hours to leave the country. The government accused the staff member of operating outside her mandate.

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