UNHCR seeks massive boost in funding for South Sudan refugees

News Stories, 11 July 2014

© UNHCR/P.Wiggers
South Sudaneses refugees at Kule 1 refugee camp in Gambella, Ethiopia, some of 400,000 who have already fled from South Sudan to neighbouring countries.

GENEVA, 11 July 9 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency and its partners appealed on Friday for US$658 million to respond to South Sudan's growing regional refugee crisis, with as many as 715,000 refugees expected by the end of the year.

The appeal to donors was a revision from $371 million requested in March, when the refugee population was forecast at 340,000 less than half the new figure.

"The ongoing conflict and worsening humanitarian situation inside the world's youngest nation is fuelling a refugee exodus into Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda at a much higher rate than initially anticipated," UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told a news briefing. "The figure of 715,000 more than doubles the number of refugees envisaged when we launched our original appeal in March."

Ethiopia has witnessed the biggest surge in refugee arrivals over recent months, with some 11,000 refugees crossing into the remote town of Burubiey over a 72-hour period at the peak in early May. While numbers have steadied since, this remote corner of Ethiopia is still receiving over 1,000 refugees a day, overwhelming local services and capacities.

"Many of the refugees arriving in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Sudan are in a terrible state," Fleming said. "They are exhausted, traumatized by what they've fled and by the difficult journey to safety, malnourished and in very poor health."

There are currently some 400,000 refugees from South Sudan in Ethiopia (158,164), Uganda (118,423) Sudan (82,000) and Kenya (41,115).

The priorities of the revised response plan, which includes the activities of 34 international and non-government organizations, are to provide life-saving aid in the forms of food, nutrition support, health, water and sanitation, hygiene and shelter assistance.

An extremely high number of refugee arrivals are women and children -- as high as 94 percent in Ethiopia -- and are particularly vulnerable. That underlines the need for proper registration to provide a response. There are some 14,000 unaccompanied and separated children.

Other priorities include monitoring to ensure the civilian nature of refugee camps and settlements, and contributing to reports of human rights violations inside South Sudan.

Despite welcoming contributions to date, UNHCR said the new appeal was only 24 percent funded.

"If this amount does not increase urgently, the consequences could be drastic and will include food shortages, worsening sanitary conditions, heightened risk of disease, and cuts to education programmes, significantly exacerbating the hardship faced by refugees," said Fleming.

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South Sudan Crisis: Urgent Appeal

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Advocacy

Advocacy is a key element in UNHCR activities to protect people of concern.

Southerners on the move before Sudanese vote

Ahead of South Sudan's landmark January 9, 2011 referendum on independence, tens of thousands of southern Sudanese in the North packed their belongings and made the long trek south. UNHCR set up way stations at key points along the route to provide food and shelter to the travellers during their arduous journey. Several reports of rapes and attacks on travellers reinforced the need for these reception centres, where women, children and people living with disabilities can spend the night. UNHCR has made contingency plans in the event of mass displacement after the vote, including the stockpiling of shelter and basic provisions for up to 50,000 people.

Southerners on the move before Sudanese vote

South Sudan: Preparing for Long-Awaited Returns

The signing of a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the army of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement on 9 January, 2005, ended 21 years of civil war and signaled a new era for southern Sudan. For some 4.5 million uprooted Sudanese – 500,000 refugees and 4 million internally displaced people – it means a chance to finally return home.

In preparation, UNHCR and partner agencies have undertaken, in various areas of South Sudan, the enormous task of starting to build some basic infrastructure and services which either were destroyed during the war or simply had never existed. Alongside other UN agencies and NGOs, UNHCR is also putting into place a wide range of programmes to help returnees re-establish their lives.

These programs include road construction, the building of schools and health facilities, as well as developing small income generation programmes to promote self-reliance.

South Sudan: Preparing for Long-Awaited Returns

South Sudan: The Long Trip Home

When the peace treaty that ended 21 years of civil war between north and south Sudan was signed in 2005, some 223,000 Sudanese refugees were living in Uganda – the largest group of Sudanese displaced to a neighbouring country.

Despite South Sudan's lack of basic infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals and roads, many Sudanese were eager to go home. In May 2006, the UN refugee agency's Uganda office launched an assisted repatriation programme for Sudanese refugees. The returnees were given a repatriation package, including blankets, sleeping mats, plastic sheets, mosquito nets, water buckets, kitchen sets, jerry cans, soap, seeds and tools, before being transported from the transit centres to their home villages. As of mid-2008, some 60,000 Sudanese living in Uganda had been helped back home.

As of the beginning of May 2008, some 275,000 Sudanese refugees had returned to South Sudan from surrounding countries, including Uganda, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya. Some 125,000 returned with UNHCR assistance.

Posted on 16 July 2008

South Sudan: The Long Trip Home

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