UNHCR calls for massive boost in funding as worsening situation in South Sudan fuels regional refugee crisis

Briefing Notes, 11 July 2014

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 11 July 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR and its partners responding to South Sudan's growing regional refugee crisis are today launching a revised appeal to donors for US$658 million to help as many as 715,000 refugees expected by end 2014.

The ongoing conflict and worsening humanitarian situation inside the world's youngest nation is fuelling a refugee exodus into Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda at a much higher rate than initially anticipated. The figure of 715,000 more than doubles the number of refugees envisaged when we launched our original appeal in March.

Ethiopia has witnessed the biggest surge in refugee arrivals over the past few months, with some 11,000 refugees crossing into the remote town of Burubiey over a 72 hour period at the peak in early May. While numbers have steadied since, this remote corner of Ethiopia is still receiving over 1,000 refugees a day, overwhelming local services and capacities.

Many of the refugees arriving in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Sudan are in a terrible state. They are exhausted, traumatized by what they've fled and by the difficult journey to safety, malnourished and in very poor health.

The priorities of the revised response plan, which includes the activities of 34 international and non-government organizations, are to provide life-saving aid in the forms of food, nutrition support, health, water and sanitation, hygiene and shelter assistance. In addition, an extremely high number of refugee arrivals are women and children (as high as 94 per cent in Ethiopia) and are particularly vulnerable -- underlying the importance of proper registration to better understand their needs and shape our response. The high number of unaccompanied and separated children (around 14,000 across the region) also requires targeted case management and regional strengthening of family tracing programmes. Other priority protection activities include monitoring to ensure the civilian nature of refugee camps and settlements, and contributing to reports of grave human rights violations inside South Sudan.

Despite welcome contributions to date, the combined appeal to meet the mounting needs of this vulnerable refugee population is only 24 per cent funded. If this amount does not increase urgently, the consequences could be drastic and will include food shortages, worsening sanitary conditions, heightened risk of disease, and cuts to education programmes, significantly exacerbating the hardship faced by refugees. (More details on the consequences of underfunding are set out in the attachment to this briefing note.)

There are currently some 400,000 refugees from South Sudan in Ethiopia (158,164), Uganda (118,423) Sudan (82,000) and Kenya (41,115).

UNHCR and its 25 partners launched an initial Inter-Agency appeal for the Regional Refugee Response Plan for the South Sudan Refugee Emergency in March 2014, calling for $371 million for a then expected refugee population in 2014 of 340,000.

The Revised Refugee Response Plan (RRP) for South Sudan (http://www.unhcr.org/53bf91879.html) is being presented to donors this morning in Geneva.

INTERVIEW AVAILABILITY:

UNHCR's Regional Refugee Coordinator, Ms Ann Encontre, is available for one-on-one interviews.

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