High Commissioner António Guterres to visit South Sudan and Sudan

Briefing Notes, 6 January 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 6 January 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is travelling to South Sudan this weekend. He will be in the capital Juba on Saturday and visit a refugee site in Mabaan on Sunday. He will also travel to Sudan from 10 to 13 January.

In South Sudan, UNHCR is supporting the government of the newly-independent country to reintegrate some 660,000 returnees, including 360,000 South Sudanese who have come from Sudan and some 300,000 who have returned mostly from other neighbouring countries.

Recent fighting in Sudan's Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States has caused some 75,000 Sudanese refugees to flee across the border into Unity and Upper Nile States in South Sudan, as well as some 23,500 into Ethiopia. To assist the arriving refugees, UNHCR has started airlifting relief supplies into Malakal and Mabaan. Since 20 December, 16 flights have delivered 1,450 family tents, 10,000 kitchen sets, 18,000 blankets, 18,000 jerry cans, plastic sheets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and other essential relief items. The airlift is ongoing and more assistance is needed.

Meanwhile, in South Sudan, the recent outbreak of inter-ethnic fighting in Jonglei State between the Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic groups has resulted in major internal population movements.

On Tuesday, Guterres will fly to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. From there, he is scheduled to travel to Kassala in East Sudan, scene of one of the most protracted refugee situations in the world. Some 70,000 refugees mostly of Eritrean origin reside in 12 camps. Refugees and the local host community face similar hardships: acute poverty, draught and risk of famine, lack of access to health and education, land degradation and high unemployment. Guterres will discuss with the authorities programmes aimed at enhancing self-reliance.

In addition to the 70,000 refugees, there is a regular influx of some 1,700 asylum seekers per month, mostly from Eritrea.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Khartoum, Sudan: Vivian Tan on mobile +249 912 307 489
  • In Juba, South Sudan: Mireille Girard on mobile +249 927 770 050
• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Repatriation

UNHCR works with the country of origin and host countries to help refugees return home.

Returnees in Myanmar

During the early 1990s, more than 250,000 Rohingya Muslims fled across the border into Bangladesh, citing human rights abuses by Myanmar's military government. In exile, refugees received shelter and assistance in 20 camps in the Cox's Bazaar region of Bangladesh. More than 230,000 of the Rohingya Muslims have returned since 1992, but about 22,000 still live in camps in Bangladesh. To promote stability in returnee communities in Myanmar and to help this group of re-integrate into their country, UNHCR and its partner agencies provide monitors to insure the protection and safety of the returnees as well as vocational training, income generation schemes, adult literacy programs and primary education.

Returnees in Myanmar

Battling the Elements in Chad

More than 180,000 Sudanese refugees have fled violence in Sudan's Darfur region, crossing the border to the remote desert of eastern Chad.

It is one of the most inhospitable environments UNHCR has ever had to work in. Vast distances, extremely poor road conditions, scorching daytime temperatures, sandstorms, the scarcity of vegetation and firewood, and severe shortages of drinkable water have been major challenges since the beginning of the operation. Now, heavy seasonal rains are falling, cutting off the few usable roads, flooding areas where refugees had set up makeshift shelters, and delaying the delivery of relief supplies.

Despite the enormous environmental challenges, UNHCR has so far managed to establish nine camps and relocate the vast majority of the refugees who are willing to move from the volatile border.

Battling the Elements in Chad

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

Canada: Light Years Ahead
Play video

Canada: Light Years Ahead

With help from the Government of Canada, lives of refugees in Chad and Ethiopia have been transformed through the Light Years Ahead project.
Ethiopia: South Sudanese Refugee InfluxPlay video

Ethiopia: South Sudanese Refugee Influx

Despite a ceasefire agreement signed in early May, fighting continues between government and opposition forces in South Sudan. The renewed conflict has forced thousands of refugees to seek shelter in Ethiopia.
South Sudan: Here and HelpingPlay video

South Sudan: Here and Helping

The South Sudanese town of Bor was among the worst hit in the latest violence in the country. These newly displaced people found shelter in an Ethiopian refugee camp.