Situation In South Sudan Continues To Worsen
GENEVA – The UN Refugee Agency and the World Food Program today urged donors to step up support for desperate refugees fleeing South Sudan. Humanitarian agencies are seeking US$ 1.4 billion to provide life-saving aid to South Sudanese refugees in the six neighboring countries until the end of 2017 – according to an updated response plan presented in Geneva on Monday.
The South Sudanese refugee response plan so far remains only 14 per cent funded.
“Bitter conflict and deteriorating humanitarian conditions in South Sudan are driving people from their homes in record numbers,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
The situation in South Sudan continues to worsen – with a combination of conflict, drought and famine leading to further displacement and a rapid exodus of people fleeing one of the world’s most severe crises.
“The suffering of the South Sudanese people is just unimaginable,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “They are close to the abyss. Violence is at the root of this crisis. Aid workers often cannot reach the most vulnerable hungry people. Many are dying from hunger and disease, many more have fled their homeland for safety abroad.”
South Sudan has now become the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis, with more than 1.8 million refugees – including one million children – having sought safety in Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic.
The current rate of people fleeing South Sudan exceeds the humanitarian community’s already pessimistic estimates. For example, the number of people fleeing to Sudan in March surpassed the expected figure for the entire year. Uganda is also seeing higher than expected arrivals and at this rate is likely to soon host over one million South Sudanese refugees.
“Our funding situation forced us to cut food rations for many refugees in Uganda,” Beasley said. “I find that unacceptable, and I hope you do too. These are families like yours and mine, our brothers and sisters, and the world must help them now – not later. Please help us do the job these people need us to do.”
UNHCR welcomed the outstanding generosity refugees have received in South Sudan’s neighboring countries, but is alarmed by a situation which is now critical.
“Countries like Uganda have done all one could expect, but won’t be able to sustain support for refugees unless the rest of the world steps up,” warned UNHCR’s Grandi while presenting the revised needs to donors in Geneva.
With acute underfunding, humanitarian agencies are struggling to provide food, water, nutrition support, shelter and health services to refugees.
Communities hosting refugees are among the world’s poorest and are under immense pressure.
“Helping refugees is not just about providing emergency aid,” said UNHCR’s Grandi. “It also means supporting governments and communities in neighboring countries to shore up services and economies in the areas receiving them.”
UNHCR coordinates the overall response with governments, humanitarian agencies as well as with refugees and host communities. Currently Uganda hosts some 898,000 refugees, with 375,000 in Sudan, 375,000 in Ethiopia, 97,000 in Kenya, 76,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and 2,200 in Central African Republic (CAR).
WFP provides food and cash assistance to more than 1.8 million refugees in the neighboring countries.
The updated response plan does not cover humanitarian needs of around two million people displaced internally in South Sudan.
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
[Source: UNHCR -/- Media Relations]
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