Last year, UNHCR appealed for US$ 638 million to support South Sudanese refugees in Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia. Before fighting broke out between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to First Vice President, Riek Machar on Friday, July 8, there were 743,907 South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries, according to a UNHCR fact sheet published on July 15.
But following the first two days of renewed clashes nearly 1,000 (at least 896) South Sudanese nationals had fled the capital Juba to Uganda, according to media reports. The refugees, a majority of whom are women and children are received at the Elegu Refugee Collection near the Uganda-South Sudan border, Uganda’s Daily Monitor reported.
In response UNHCR launched a revised appeal for US$ 701 million amid concerns the number of South Sudanese refugees in the region could pass the 1 million mark this year, if clashes continue between South Sudan’s former warring parties who are now partners in a Transitional Government of National Unity, sending more people to flee across the country’s borders.
Aid agencies are concerned about the likelihood of fresh outflows of refugees following the recent military crisis in Juba, amidst a shortage of funding, said Ann Encontre, the Regional Refugee Coordinator for South Sudan, while launching the appeal for additional funds in Kenya’s capital Nairobi on Friday, July 15.
This has forced us to prioritise emergency response and life-saving activities, at the expense of critical water, sanitation, hygiene, health and shelter interventions for refugees.
Encontre complained that UNHCR had received only 17 percent of the initial money they appealed for. “This has forced us to prioritise emergency response and life-saving activities, at the expense of critical water, sanitation, hygiene, health and shelter interventions for refugees,” she said in a press statement issued on July 15.
“Although children constitute 70 percent of the refugee population, child protection activities including in the education sector are severely compromised,” she explained.
Aid officials say 23 percent of the funds will be used to provide food assistance to the refugees from a country where 4.8 million people are expected to be severely food insecure.
UNHCR said 13 percent of the funds appealed for will go to health and nutrition while another 13 percent will provide water, sanitation and hygiene. In addition 12 percent of the funds will go to refugee protection while shelter and core relief items will take 10 percent of the required funds. Only 10 percent of the required funds will be used to provide livelihoods and environmental protection.
Encontre applauded neighbouring countries for opening their borders to arriving South Sudanese refugees. In addition to Uganda, Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia, two other countries are hosting South Sudanese refugees – the Central African Republic (10,454 refugees) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (11,966). So far, Uganda hosts the largest number of South Sudanese refugees at 224,420.
South Sudanese security operatives have barred South Sudanese men from leaving the country leaving people stranded at both, Juba International Airport and at the southern border crossing point Nimule. Anyone intending to leave the country is required to get clearance from South Sudan’s National Security Service, immigration officials told intending travellers.
Encontre called upon all armed parties in South Sudan to ensure safe passage for people fleeing fighting to seek safety and asylum. Encontre made a special appeal for the children who, she said, are the most affected by fighting in South Sudan.