Humanitarian agencies responding to South Sudan’s growing regional refugee crisis are urgently appealing for USD 658 million to help as many as 715,000 refugees expected by end 2014.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR says the ongoing conflict and worsening humanitarian situation inside south Sudan is fueling a refugee exodus into Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda at a much higher rate than initially anticipated.
At present over 400,000 South Sudanese refugees have fled into neighboring countries. Uganda alone is hosting up to 118,000 refugees who fled into the country since the fighting began in mid- December 2013.
UNHCR says many of the refugees are being forced to walk long distances to seek safety and are arriving exhausted, traumatized malnourished and in very poor health.
Melissa Fleming, UNHCR spokesperson in Geneva says the money would help address the high number of unaccompanied and separated children that are coming into countries neighboring south Sudan. “To date we have received some contributions but we are only 24 per cent funded. If this amount does not increase urgently, the consequences could be drastic,” she adds.
Meanwhile, the French embassy in Kampala has contributed Euro 200,000 (US$ 272,000) towards the acquisition of food needs of the refugees in Uganda through the UN World Food Programme.
The contribution is expected to reach at least 50,000 refugees.
French Ambassador, Sophie Makame unveiled the funding during a visit to the WFP warehouse in Nalukolongo, Kampala yesterday. She said the contribution is in response to the joint donors’ appeal to face humanitarian emergency needs in favor of newly arrived South Sudanese refugees in Northern Uganda. The appeal was launched by the government of Uganda and the United Nations in January 2014.
“France has mobilized 300.000 Euros – 100.000 Euros supporting UNHCR for water-trucking in Adjumani and Arua districts and WFP with 200.000 Euros, through the Food Aid Programme. This project aims at providing life-saving relief food assistance for 50.000 asylum seekers and refugees who have arrived in Uganda fleeing fighting and insecurity in South Sudan since December 2013,” she said.
Alice Martin-Daihirou, the WFP Country Representative, stated that “Without the support of generous and committed donors such as France, WFP is unable to meet the food needs of the growing number of South Sudanese refugees and others already in the settlement areas.”
She added that the influx in West Nile is continuing and each refugee that arrives needs food assistance from WFP.