South Sudan: Preparations underway to relocate refugees from Yida settlement
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.
In South Sudan, our focus is on the security of nearly 63,000 refugees in the Yida settlement near the border with Sudan's South Kordofan - a persistent problem over many months. We are currently assessing several alternative sites, with a view to relocating people as soon as rainy season conditions allow. Yesterday, UNHCR and the Peacekeeping mission, UNMISS undertook a joint mission by helicopter to explore the suitability and accessibility of potential relocation sites offered by the South Sudan government.
We are in daily contact with the Government regarding the relocation. UNHCR technical experts will be in the area next week to design new sites - both for the refugees now in Yida, and in anticipation of possible new refugee inflows from fighting in South Kordofan once the rainy season ends.
Yida's close proximity to the border has made it a high risk protection environment for refugees, with the recurrent presence of armed personnel in and around the settlement. Right now, the safety of the refugees and the civilian character of the settlement cannot be guaranteed. We report incidents of armed elements being seen to the South Sudan authorities.
Safety of refugees is always a concern to UNHCR, but what makes the situation in Yida particularly worrying is that nearly 70 percent of refugees there are below age 18. UNHCR and our partners have established seven child protection committees with the refugee community. When children arrive on their own, we ensure they are quickly united with relatives already settled in Yida or are provided foster care to make them less vulnerable.
The current funding situation makes is incredibly difficult for us to address even the most urgent needs of some 175,000 refugees in Unity and Upper Nile states in South Sudan. The Sudanese operation is dramatically underfunded. The UNHCR revised appeal for this year covers US$186 million of which only 40 per cent has been received so far. At minimum, a further $20 million must be received before January. International NGOs also need additional funding beyond that amount to ensure that all activities can be carried out as needed.
For further information on this topic, please contact:
- In Juba, Melita Sunjic, on mobile +211 922 405 681
- In Nairobi (Regional), Kitty McKinsey on mobile +254 735 337 608
- In Geneva, Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba on mobile +41 79 249 3483