Heavy Rainfall Enforces Decision on Reallocation of Leitchuor Refugee Camp


Recent flooding that enforced relocation of Leitchuor refugee camps to Jewi, May 02, 2015(Photo: Nyamilepedia)

May 4, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — A refugee camp in Gambella Province of Ethiopia, Leitchuor, has been at the top of political and social debates in the region, at least, for the last one year.

Lietchuor Refugee camp was established in january 2014, just after the conflict erupted in Juba, South Sudan, in December 2014 to accommodate influx of hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees, mostly from the Nuer Ethnic group.

After over 20, 000 Nuer ethnic group were massacred, according to official reports, by a presidential militia trained and funded by the incumbent President, Salva Kiir Mayardit; members of Nuer ethnic group have either fled to United Nations bases in the country or walked thousands of miles to safety in the neighboring countries.

Leitchuor, a town inhabited mostly by the Nuer-ethiopians, has accommodated over 50, 000 South Sudanese refugees for the last one and half years, however, due to floods in 2014, refugees and local populations have considered relocation of the refugees to other parts of the region, and most preferably to Jewi.

Jewi town is approximately 18 kilometers away from Gambella city, and is believed to be higher than Leitchuor, according to feasibility studies.

The decision to relocate the Camp provoked mixed reactions, mostly, from the Host Communities; the Nuer Gajaak of Ethiopia(Chie Nyajani) and Anyuak, who consider job opportunities and social interaction with the refugees.

The Local Population (Chie Nyajani), and some camp officials opposed the decision, arguing that the camps should not be relocated to “Anyuak Zone” because relocation of the camps will also relocate resources from Nuer-Ethiopians to Anyuak-Ethiopians.

Despite creation of job and other opportunities, the Anyuak, on the other hand, are worried of possibilities of increase violence and tribal feuds between the two communities should the camps be moved to Jewi town.

After the local youth matched on the streets a few weeks ago, Governor Gatluak Tut, on his return from Addis Ababa where he attended government functions, met the local population to try to convince them that everything will be worked out. However, to his disappointment, his intervention changed very little over the last one month.

On May 2, 2015, the nature intervened with heavy rainfalls which extended to Lou-Nuer areas in the neighboring South Sudan. Many tents and tukuls were blown off, and many refugees remained stranded in the floods. Given the reality, the overdue debates ceased!

As a result, the host community (Chie Nyajani) are now confessing to let go the stranded refugees. Many locals are calling on the UNHCR to relocate the camps to Jewi.

According to local officials, the long awaited relocation will soon peacefully begin.

In other reports, similar rains have impeded military campaigns in Jonglei and Unity states.

Related reports from Upper Nile state indicate that rains have displaced government troops from towns that they have been loosely controlling for the last few months due to fear of rebels’ assaults when the rain intensifies.

Marum Ruon Wicjoat, who contributed to this report, can be contacted at marumruon@gmail.com

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