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Fighting endangers 20,000 refugees in South Sudan

Xinhua | Updated: 2011-12-09 21:47

GENEVA - Some 20,000 refugees in South Sudan are increasingly at risk as fighting raged near the northern border with Sudan, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.

Ongoing military confrontations in the border area of Jau took place only several kilometers away from Yida refugee settlement, which have sent some refugees fleeing into the bushes, disrupting humanitarian assistance to the settlement.

"We fear that the fighting could spread to Yida, which was hit by air strikes in November," UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told media at a press conference held in Geneva.

The UN Refugee Agency has been providing humanitarian assistances, including food, water and health care, for refugees in Yida, who had fled Sudan's Southern Kordofan region in recent months.

Possibility for refugees to travel further inland to safer locations is limited by landmines found on roads."To ensure safe passage, the UN Mine Action Centre is doing mine surveys and clearance. We hope to relocate a first group of willing refugees very soon," said Fleming.

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