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.

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