As South Sudan crisis deepens UNHCR warns donors that refugee numbers in surrounding region will rise

Briefing Notes, 25 March 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 25 March 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In light of the worsening crisis in South Sudan, UNHCR and WFP on behalf of partners appealed yesterday (Monday) to donors for US$371 million in urgently needed support for the thousands of South Sudanese refugees now arriving in neighbouring countries.

Since fighting erupted in mid-December more than 204,000 people have already fled to Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya. With continuing insecurity and growing food shortages inside South Sudan, UNHCR expects the number of South Sudanese refugees across the region to reach 340,000 by the end of the year.

South Sudanese have recently been fleeing into neighbouring countries at a rate of nearly 2,000 per day, with most heading to Ethiopia and Uganda. Many of the refugees have been arriving exhausted, nutritionally weak, and in poor health, having coming from areas of South Sudan experiencing severe food shortages. The majority are women, children and elderly people. With some 708,900 people displaced inside South Sudan and 3.7 million at high risk of food insecurity, the potential for further cross-border movement is high.

Given these trends, the regional emergency response announced yesterday will focus on protection activities and other life-saving needs. These include emergency food, water, sanitation, and health. In addition, we will be developing and expanding refugee camps and other sites where basic services will be available.

Monday's appeal covers only the South Sudanese refugee population in neighbouring countries. UNHCR's work to help internally displaced people and the 235,000 mainly Sudanese refugees inside South Sudan is covered by separate budgets.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Geneva, Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 557 91 20

  • In Geneva, Fatoumata Lejeune on mobile +41 79 249 34 83

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