UNHCR warns that South Sudan situation is critical, appeals to donors for urgent new help

Briefing Notes, 22 June 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 22 June 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR on Thursday appealed to donors to urgently provide additional funding for its operations to help Sudanese refugees in South Sudan and neighbouring Ethiopia. Currently there are some 162,500 refugees in South Sudan and 36,500 in Ethiopia. The contributions we have received for South Sudan have been exhausted.

The situation for refugees in South Sudan is among the most critical UNHCR now faces anywhere. At the time of our initial appeal in January we had planned on the basis of a refugee population in South Sudan not exceeding 135,000 people. However, the sharp surge in arrivals in recent weeks in Upper Nile state in particular has seen this figure being exceeded by nearly 30,000 people, and with arrivals continuing at an average rate of 1000 a day.

Many of the new arrivals are in desperate condition, and large numbers of children need urgent intervention to address malnourishment. We are very concerned about the growing mortality rates in the refugee camps and are establishing a baseline survey to gain a better picture of the situation. Water shortages present a life-threatening risk, particularly for an already weakened population.

Currently UNHCR is not expecting a further dramatic increase in arrivals in Ethiopia and consequently our funding needs there remain unchanged. For South Sudan, however, our new appeal allows for a refugee population of up to 235,000 by year's end. With this revised appeal, our needs for Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia and South Sudan stand at US$ 219.9 million. Currently we have received US$45.9 million (US$11.6 million for Ethiopia and US$33.6 million for South Sudan), representing less than 21 per cent of needs.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Juba: Terry Ongaro on mobile: +211 927 770 040



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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

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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: Four Years On from IndependencePlay video

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In 2011 the people of South Sudan celebrated their independence. Four years later, the world's newest nation is one of the world's worst humanitarian situations. In December 2013, conflict erupted displacing 2 million people including more than 600,000 refugees. South Sudanese has fled to Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan. The crisis has especially impacted the next generation of South Sudanese, 70% of those displaced are children.
South Sudan Crisis: One Year OnPlay video

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Forty-five-year-old Gabriel fled South Sudan with his wife and children to find safety in the UN compound in Bor. But, in April 2014, his wife was killed when an armed mob forced their way in, and now he is a single father to five children, seeking a better life in Uganda.