UNHCR - more camps for South Sudanese refugee population in East Africa

Briefing Notes, 17 January 2014

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 17 January 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

As more South Sudanese refugees flee into neighbouring countries, UNHCR teams are working to establish a number of new camps and expand existing ones in neighbouring Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Since mid-December, when conflict erupted in South Sudan, over 86,000 South Sudanese have crossed into neighbouring countries. With people still arriving at a rate of around 1000 a day we are looking at the prospect of refugee numbers exceeding 100,000 by end January.

Inside South Sudan, people are reported to have moved to border areas, from where they can cross to neighbouring countries should the situation further deteriorate. To the south of Juba, just across the border from Uganda at Nimule there are now thousands of people. Others are reported in areas bordering Sudan and its neighbouring regions of East Darfur, South and West Kordofan.

According to government data there are now 46,579 South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Ethiopia has so far received 20,624, and Kenya at least 8,900. An estimated 10,000 people have also crossed into Sudan's South and West Kordofan states, which are themselves facing armed violence. The government of Sudan has registered 1,371 of them as refugees while the rest are mostly nomads.

In Uganda, there is still serious overcrowding at the Dzaipi transit centre in Adjumani District in the country's north. People are contending with issues relating to hygiene, food and lack of water. Although some 10,000 people have so far been moved to the nearby Nyumanzi settlement Dzaipi, designed for 400 people, is still hosting over 20,000 refugees.

UNHCR is racing to transfer around 500 families daily to decongest Dzaipi transit center as more refugees arrive. We are meanwhile rehabilitating former sites in Nyumanzi and nearby at Baratuku where a primary school and health centre need to be upgraded.

Water is the most urgent of the challenges, with some of the recently moved refugees reporting that a wait of up to 4 days to get water while others are sleeping in line at water pumps with their jerry cans. Shelter and health are also problematic, with many people sleeping in the open.

Most of the newly arriving South Sudanese are under 18 years of age and many of them have already been asking for secondary and tertiary education opportunities. For children without close family members UNHCR is providing separate shelter and identifying foster caretakers within the community, but further support is still needed.

UNHCR is urging partners and other humanitarian organizations to assist in building up these settlements. In the meantime, we have created a second transit centre in the same area, with a capacity for 4,000 people, and where incoming refugees are now being now being taken.

All refugees relocated to the settlements around Adjumani are given basic relief items including blankets, mats, cooking equipment, jerry cans and materials to construct houses. They are also given small plots of land to erect their houses.

In Ethiopia and Kenya, where new camp development is also taking place, refugees are facing similar challenges in terms of clean water, health, sanitation, shelter and education. In Kenya in particular, we are seeing many children separated from their parents.

By setting up new camps and expanding existing ones in both countries, we will be in a better position to address the news of the growing refugee population. UNHCR currently needs a total of $US88 million to respond to the humanitarian crisis inside South Sudan as well as in the surrounding region.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Nairobi: Kitty McKinsey (Regional) on mobile +254 735 337 608
  • In Juba (on mission): Kisut Gebreegziabher on mobile. +211 928 067 699
  • In Mbarara, Lucy Beck on mobile +256 77 271 013
  • In Geneva, Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 557 9120
  • In Geneva, Fatoumata Lejeune on mobile +41 79 249 34 83



UNHCR country pages

South Sudan Crisis: Urgent Appeal

Donate now and help to provide emergency aid to tens of thousands of people fleeing South Sudan to escape violence.

Donate to this crisis

Down Through the Generations, Conflict Forces Flight in South Sudan

In what is now South Sudan, families have been fleeing fighting for generations since conflict first erupted there in 1955. The Sudan War ended in 1972, then flared up again in 1983 and dragged on for 22 years to the peace deal in 2005 that led to the south's independence from Sudan in 2011.

But the respite was shortlived. One year ago, fresh conflict broke out between government and opposition supporters in the world's newest country, forcing 1.9 million people in the nation of 11 million from their homes. Most - 1.4 million - ended up somewhere else within South Sudan. Now older people live in stick-and-tarpaulin huts with their children, and their children's children, all three generations - sometimes four - far from home due to yet more war.

The largest settlement for such families is near the town of Mingkaman in South Sudan's Lakes state, close to the central city of Bor. More than 100,000 internally displaced people live in the settlement, located a few hours boat ride up the Nile from the capital, Juba. Photographer Andrew McConnell recently visited Mingkaman to follow the daily life of six families and find out how the wars have affected them.

Down Through the Generations, Conflict Forces Flight in South Sudan

Displacement in South Sudan: A Camp Within a Camp

In the three weeks since South Sudan erupted in violence, an estimated 200,000 South Sudanese have found themselves displaced within their own country. Some 57,000 have sought sanctuary at bases of UN peace-keepers across the country. These photos by UNHCR's Senior Regional Public Information Officer Kitty McKinsey give a glimpse of the daily life of the 14,000 displaced people inside the UN compound known locally as Tong Ping, near the airport in Juba, South Sudan's capital. Relief agencies, including UNHCR, are rallying to bring shelter, blankets and other aid items, but in the first days, displaced people had to fend for themselves. The compounds have taken on all the trappings of small towns, with markets, kiosks, garbage collection and public bathing facilities. Amazingly, children still manage to smile and organize their own games with the simplest of materials.

Displacement in South Sudan: A Camp Within a Camp

Emergency food distribution in South Sudan's Jonglei state

Humanitarian organizations in South Sudan are working to deliver emergency assistance to some of the tens of thousands of people displaced by armed conflict in Jonglei state. Most of those uprooted have fled into the bush or have walked for days to reach villages away from the fighting. Others have journeyed even greater distances to find sanctuary in the neighbouring countries of Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. Gaining access to those affected in an insecure and isolated area has been a significant challenge for aid workers. Since mid-July, an airlift has been providing food supplies to families living in two previously inaccessible villages and where humanitarian agencies have established temporary bases. As part of the "cluster approach" to humanitarian emergencies, which brings together partners working in the same response sector, UNHCR is leading the protection cluster to ensure the needs of vulnerable individuals among the displaced are addressed.

Emergency food distribution in South Sudan's Jonglei state

South Sudan: Four Years On from IndependencePlay video

South Sudan: Four Years On from Independence

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

South Sudan Crisis: One Year On

Uganda: A Father's TroublesPlay video

Uganda: A Father's Troubles

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.