GENEVA - The UN Refugee Agency and the World Food Programme today urged donors to step up support for desperate refugees fleeing South Sudan. Humanitarian agencies are seeking USD 1.4 billion to provide life-saving aid to South Sudanese refugees in the six neighbouring 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, DRC and CAR.
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 neighbouring 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 neighbouring 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 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 neighbouring 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.
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UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. UNHCR safeguards the rights and well-being of refugees and stateless people. In more than six decades, the agency has helped tens of millions of people restart their lives. UNHCR is on the front lines of the world's major humanitarian crises, including Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and countless other emergencies. Visit www.unhcr.org/ - Follow Twitter @Refugees - @Refugeesmedia and www.facebook.com/UNHCR/
For more information please contact:
Bettina Luescher, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. + 41 79 842 8057. email@example.com
Gerald Bourke, WFP/New York, Tel. +1 646 5566909, Mob. +1 646 525 9982. firstname.lastname@example.org
George Fominyen, WFP/Juba: +211 922 465 247, email@example.com
Challiss McDonough, WFP/Nairobi: +254 707 722 104, firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, Ron Redmond, email@example.com, +1 347 574 6552
Geneva, Babar Baloch, Baloch@unhcr.org, mobile +41795139549
Uganda, Teresa Ongaro firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile +254 735 337 608
Uganda, Rocco Nuri email@example.com, mobile +256 779 663 793
South Sudan, Juliette Stevenson firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile +211 992 700 550
Ethiopia, Kisut Gebre Egziabher email@example.com, mobile +251 911 208 901
Sudan, Mohamed El-Fatih El-Naiem, firstname.lastname@example.org, +249 9123 08842
DRC, Andreas Kirchhof, email@example.com, +243 817 009 484
Kenya, Yvonne Ndege firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile +254 797 735 977