UNHCR to build new camps, expand others to shelter South Sudanese refugees

Making a Difference, 17 January 2014

© UNHCR/F.Noy
Evening approaches at the Dzaipi transit centre in northern Uganda, where UNHCR has erected tents for many of the refugees.

GENEVA, January 17 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency said on Friday that UNHCR teams are working to establish new camps and expand existing ones in neighbouring Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya to cope with the influx of refugees from South Sudan.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva that since conflict erupted in South Sudan in mid-December, more than 86,000 South Sudanese have crossed into neighbouring countries. "With people still arriving at a rate of around 1,000 a day, we are looking at the prospect of refugee numbers exceeding 100,000 by the end of January," he said.

Inside South Sudan, people are reported to have moved to border areas, where they can cross to neighbouring countries should the situation further deteriorate. Just inside Uganda at Nimule there are now thousands of people. Others are reported in areas bordering Sudan and its neighbouring regions of East Darfur, South and West Kordofan.

According to government data, there are now 46,579 South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Ethiopia has received 20,624, and Kenya at least 8,900. An estimated 10,000 people have also crossed into Sudan's South and West Kordofan states, which are themselves facing armed violence. The government of Sudan has registered 1,371 of them as refugees while the rest are mostly nomads.

In Uganda, there is still serious overcrowding at the Dzaipi transit centre in Adjumani district in the country's north. People are contending with issues relating to hygiene, food and lack of water. Although some 10,000 people have so far been moved to the nearby Nyumanzi settlement, the centre at Dzaipi, designed for 400 people, is still hosting more than 20,000 refugees.

"UNHCR is racing to transfer around 500 families daily to decongest Dzaipi transit centre as more refugees arrive. We are meanwhile rehabilitating former sites in Nyumanzi and nearby at Baratuku where a primary school and health centre need to be upgraded," Edwards said in Geneva.

Water is the most urgent of the challenges, with some of the recently moved refugees reporting a wait of up to four days to get water. Shelter and health are also problematic, with many people sleeping in the open.

Most of the newly arriving South Sudanese are under 18 years of age and many of them have been asking for secondary and tertiary education opportunities. For children without close family members, UNHCR is providing separate shelter and identifying foster caretakers within the community, but further support is still needed.

"UNHCR is urging partners and other humanitarian organizations to assist in building up these settlements," spokesman Edwards said. "In the meantime, we have created a second transit centre in the same area, with a capacity for 4,000 people, and where incoming refugees are now being taken."

All refugees relocated to the settlements around Adjumani are given basic relief items including blankets, mats, cooking equipment, jerry cans and materials to construct houses. They are also given small plots of land on which to build their houses.

In Ethiopia and Kenya, refugees are facing similar challenges in terms of clean water, health, sanitation, shelter and education. In Kenya, in particular, UNHCR staff members are seeing many children separated from their parents. "By setting up new camps and expanding existing ones in both countries, we will be in a better position to address the news of the growing refugee population," Edwards noted.

UNHCR needs US$58.8 million to respond to the South Sudan humanitarian crisis until the end of March.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •
South Sudan: Born into ConflictPlay video

South Sudan: Born into Conflict

Nyariek was born as conflict returned to the world's newest country, South Sudan. But later that day, tragedy struck when her South Sudanese mother was killed in an attack.

UNHCR country pages

A Time Between: Moving on from Internal Displacement in Uganda

This document examines the situation of IDPs in Acholiland in northern Uganda, through the stories of individuals who have lived through conflict and displacement.

South Sudan Crisis: Urgent Appeal

Donate now and help to provide emergency aid to tens of thousands of people fleeing South Sudan to escape violence.

Donate to this crisis

A Refugee Settlement Rises Again in Northern Uganda

Fighting in South Sudan between government troops and rival forces since December has displaced tens of thousands of people, many of whom have sought shelter at temporary transit and reception centres just inside northern Uganda. The UN refugee agency has since early January reopened three former refugee settlements and moved an estimated 50,000 to these sites deeper inside Uganda, where it is easier to provide them with protection and assistance. After being taken by truck to one such settlement, Nyumanzi I, lying some 30 kilometres from the border, the new arrivals are given relief items such as food, blankets, mats and kitchenware as well as a plot of land from the government on which to build a shelter. The settlement has been filling up quickly. UNHCR and partners have been working around the clock to build roads, install water distribution networks and provide access to health care. By early February, homes and small shops had sprung up across the settlement as the South Sudanese got on with their lives while closely monitoring the situation back home in the hope of one day returning.

A Refugee Settlement Rises Again in Northern Uganda

Matiop's First Days as a Refugee in Uganda

After fighting engulfed his hometown of Bor in South Sudan last December, Matiop Atem Angang fled with his extended family of 15 - including his 95-year-old mother, his six children and his sister's family. They left the capital of Jonglei state, one of the areas worst affected by the violence of the last two months. A one-week journey by boat and truck brought them to safety in neighbouring Uganda.

At the border, Matiop's large family was taken to a UNHCR-run transit centre, Dzaipi, in the northern district of Adjumani. But with thousands of South Sudanese refugees arriving every day, the facility quickly became overcrowded. By mid-February, the UN refugee agency had managed to transfer refugees to their own plots of land where they will be able to live until it is safe for them to go home. Uganda is one of very few countries that allow refugees to live like local citizens. These photos follow Matiop through the process of registering as a refugee in Uganda - an experience he shares with some 70,000 of his compatriots.

Matiop's First Days as a Refugee in Uganda

Displacement in South Sudan: A Camp Within a Camp

In the three weeks since South Sudan erupted in violence, an estimated 200,000 South Sudanese have found themselves displaced within their own country. Some 57,000 have sought sanctuary at bases of UN peace-keepers across the country. These photos by UNHCR's Senior Regional Public Information Officer Kitty McKinsey give a glimpse of the daily life of the 14,000 displaced people inside the UN compound known locally as Tong Ping, near the airport in Juba, South Sudan's capital. Relief agencies, including UNHCR, are rallying to bring shelter, blankets and other aid items, but in the first days, displaced people had to fend for themselves. The compounds have taken on all the trappings of small towns, with markets, kiosks, garbage collection and public bathing facilities. Amazingly, children still manage to smile and organize their own games with the simplest of materials.

Displacement in South Sudan: A Camp Within a Camp

South Sudan: Adut's strugglePlay video

South Sudan: Adut's struggle

Thousands in war-torn South Sudan have lost their homes and livelihoods. When seventeen year old Adut lost her parents, she also lost her childhood by taking on the role of mom and dad for her young siblings. But, despite the everyday struggle, she is finding new skills and new hope in exile.
South Sudan: Grandma Abuk's ChildrenPlay video

South Sudan: Grandma Abuk's Children

Years of violence and bloodshed in South Sudan robbed Abuk of her seven children. When fighting returned last year, the old lady fled anew with her grandchildren, hampered by deteriorating eyesight.
South Sudan: No Home To Return ToPlay video

South Sudan: No Home To Return To

Philip and his family fled from their home in the South Sudan town of Bor last December and found shelter in the capital, Juba. Recently they decided to return home, despite the risks. It took three arduous days to get back, but then they got there they found that their home had been destroyed.