Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to UNHCR

Briefing Notes, 1 December 2006

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 1 December 2006, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR has received a $10 million emergency relief grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a variety of health, education, water and sanitation projects aimed at supporting the return and reintegration of hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people to devastated Southern Sudan.

The grant funds will cover immediate needs over a 28-month period in three main sectors basic health care, education, and water and sanitation in Western, Central and Eastern Equatoria states as well as the Upper Nile. A series of community-based reintegration projects focusing on each sector will benefit 210,000 Sudanese refugees coming home from neighbouring countries, as well as some 200,000 internally displaced people going back to their home villages. UNHCR will work with its UN and NGO partners as well as local communities in implementing the projects.

In a press release just issued this morning, High Commissioner António Guterres notes that these projects will help returnees and communities in South Sudan bridge the difficult gap between repatriation, reconstruction and long-term development. Equipping communities early on with basic essentials such as clean water and sanitation, schools and health care helps ensure that those who are going home can stay home.

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UNHCR country pages

Bonga Camp, Ethiopia

Bonga camp is located in the troubled Gambella region of western Ethiopia. But it remains untouched by the ethnic conflicts that have torn nearby Gambella town and Fugnido camp in the last year.

For Bonga's 17,000 Sudanese refugees, life goes on despite rumblings in the region. Refugee children continue with school and play while their parents make ends meet by supplementing UNHCR assistance with self-reliance projects.

Cultural life is not forgotten, with tribal ceremonies by the Uduk majority. Other ethnic communities – Shuluks, Nubas and Equatorians – are welcome too, judging by how well hundreds of newcomers have settled in after their transfer from Fugnido camp in late 2002.

Bonga Camp, Ethiopia

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: Helping the Most VulnerablePlay video

South Sudan: Helping the Most Vulnerable

UNHCR comes to the assistance of older, disabled and sickly Sudanese refugees arriving in Yusuf Batil Camp.
Sudan: A Perilous RoutePlay video

Sudan: A Perilous Route

Kassala camp in eastern Sudan provides shelter to thousands of refugees from Eritrea. Many of them pass through the hands of ruthless and dangerous smugglers.
Sudan: Heading for a New HomePlay video

Sudan: Heading for a New Home

UNHCR is offering to help move hundreds of people from Sudan to newly independent South Sudan, where they will build new lives. Almost 250 families with ties to the south are waiting for a ride.