Senior UNHCR Officials meet with US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley
Officials discuss political and humanitarian dimensions of the South Sudan crisis; appeal for support to end the conflict
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Senior UNHCR officials met this week with the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. She was accompanied by Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, US Ambassador to the African Union, Ambassador Michael Raynor, US Ambassador to Ethiopia, Cyril Sartor, White House Senior Director for Africa, as well as other US government officials.
UNHCR Regional Refugee Coordinator for the South Sudanese Situation and Special Advisor to the High Commissioner, Arnauld Akodjenou and Ethiopia Country Representative, Clementine Nkweta Salami, appealed for support to end the crisis that has displaced two million South Sudanese inside the country and provoked the flight of a further two million into all six neighboring countries.
They briefed the delegation on deliberations among humanitarian partners last week, which concluded that continued instability in South Sudan is likely to force more South Sudanese to seek safety elsewhere, and projected that the number of refugees could rise to 2.8 million by the end of next year.
The UNHCR officials raised concerns that women with children accounting for 63% of the refugee population, the crisis will have a significant negative impact on South Sudan’s future development due to the lost generations the conflict has created. Access to access to formal education is critical, yet 400,000 South Sudanese refugee children throughout the region are out of school.
They characterized the living conditions in protection-of-civilian sites in UN bases in South Sudan as dire, compounded by minimal productive activities. 12 per cent of internally displaced people live in those sites, while a staggering 88% are scattered in rural areas across the country.
UNHCR referred to Ambassador Haley's opinion piece entitled "This is why the President is sending me to Africa", and shared her sentiment expressed therein that lack of political will makes it difficult for the UN to achieve its goals.
Akodjenou and Nkweta Salami expressed their gratitude for USD 147 million contributed by the US government for the South Sudan refugee situation, which nonetheless remains grossly underfunded with only 31% of financial needs received by the end of October 2017.
Thanking the UNHCR officials for the briefing, Ambassador Haley said that the US Government has always supported humanitarian causes and will continue to do so while advocating for an inclusive political solution. She noted that a political solution was key to addressing the humanitarian crisis.
The South Sudan situation is currently the Africa’s fastest growing refugee crisis, with around one third of the country’s total population displaced inside the country or dispersed as refugees in all six neighboring countries.