UNHCR seeking $145 million in urgent funds for Sudanese exodus

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The UN refugee agency is seeking $145 million in additional funds to help refugees fleeing fighting in Sudan's Blue Nile and South Kordofan states into Ethiopia and South Sudan. The amount is meant to cover the needs of up to 185,000 Sudanese refugees in the two countries.

Since June 2011, heavy fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states has driven over 130,000 Sudanese refugees into Ethiopia and South Sudan. UNHCR anticipates continuing arrivals over the next months with clashes continuing and humanitarian conditions deteriorating in the conflict zones. More than 30,000 refugees have already been registered in the two countries so far this year, a pace of arrival not foreseen during the regular 2012 planning cycle.

Many of the new arrivals are in remote border areas that are close to the fighting. In South Sudan, Elfoj in Upper Nile state and Yida refugee settlement in Unity state have both seen air raids. UNHCR has relocated some 20,000 refugees from unsafe border sites since January 6th, moving them to four new settlements.

In Ethiopia's Assosa region, the pace of relocation from border areas has also picked up in recent weeks as a result of fighting in Blue Nile and the end of the harvest season for refugee farmers living near the border. The two existing camps have reached full capacity and new arrivals are being sheltered at a transit centre until a third camp can be built.

In addition to urgent relocation from volatile border areas, UNHCR's emergency response includes the provision of basic relief items and services, registration and child protection. In December, the agency mounted a massive airlift to bring in supplies - tents, plastic sheets, jerry cans, kitchen sets, among others - to the refugees in South Sudan.

UNHCR will also use the funds to build and service additional refugee settlements, improve road access and preposition relief supplies ahead of the rainy season starting in April.

The $145 million UNHCR is urgently seeking for this supplementary appeal is in addition to its regular 2012 budget of $269.1 million for programmes in Ethiopia and South Sudan. UNHCR is also appealing directly to members of the public for donations via http://www.unhcr.org/sudan.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Nairobi (UNHCR regional hub): Vivian Tan, on mobile +254 735 337 608
  • In Geneva: Adrian Edwards, on mobile +41 79 557 9120
  • In Geneva: Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba, on mobile: +41 79 249 3483