High Commissioner's mission to South Sudan and Sudan

Briefing Notes, 10 January 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 10 January 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, will wrap up his visit to South Sudan today and has called on the international community to provide massive humanitarian support for South Sudan, which faces multiple displacement crises.

After meeting Sudanese refugees in Doro camp in Mabaan region on Sunday, the High Commissioner warned that without international help it will not be possible to respond to the multiple crises and South Sudan could face a humanitarian disaster of enormous proportions. The vast majority of some 28,000 refugees in Doro camp are exhausted, hungry and vulnerable, women and children who walked several days to seek safety across the border. Most of the men have stayed behind to watch over their property.

Recent fighting in Sudan's Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states has forced more than 80,000 Sudanese refugees to flee across the border into Unity and Upper Nile States in South Sudan. Another 33,000 sought refuge in neighbouring Ethiopia.

A massive UNHCR humanitarian airlift flying in some 280 tons of aid into remote Malakal and Mabaan regions began on 20 December. Some 50,000 refugees will benefit from this assistance. So far we have completed 27 flights from our emergency stockpiles in Kenya and Dubai and have delivered 2,300 family tents, 16,000 kitchen sets, 36,000 blankets, 21,000 jerry cans, plastic sheets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and other essential relief items. The airlift is ongoing and more assistance is needed.

In South Sudan, UNHCR is supporting the authorities to reintegrate some 660,000 returnees, including 360,000 South Sudanese who have come from Sudan and some 300,000 who have returned mostly from other neighbouring countries.

High Commissioner Guterres is scheduled to arrive in Khartoum later this afternoon. From there, he is scheduled to travel to Kassala in East Sudan, scene of one of the most protracted refugee situations in the world. Some 70,000 refugees mostly of Eritrean origin reside in 12 camps. Both refugees and the local host community face acute poverty, draught and risk of famine, lack of access to health and education. Guterres will discuss with the authorities programmes aimed at enhancing self-reliance.

In addition to the 70,000 refugees, there is a regular influx of some 1,700 asylum seekers per month to Sudan, mostly from Eritrea.

For further information on this topic, please contact: