UNHCR needs more funds to help Southern Sudan refugees go home
Yesterday we issued a press release concerning the US$11.9 million shortfall in funding for the Southern Sudan repatriation and reintegration operation which could undermine efforts to repatriate refugees who wish to go home in the second half of this year.
If the current return trend continues, we could complete repatriation to Southern Sudan by the end of 2009 or the first quarter of 2010, provided we get funding on time for the rest of this year and next.
Earlier this year, UNHCR appealed for $63.1 million for the programme but so far we have received only $47 million. We were able to carry over $4.2 million from last year's contributions, but this leaves us with an $11.9 million gap.
We need the funds to continue transporting refugees, mainly from camps in neighbouring Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, back to their war-ravaged communities across Southern Sudan. Funds are also needed to pay for the provision of basic services - such as clean water, health and education facilities as well as agricultural assistance so returnees can grow their own food once back home.
We need the funds now to allow us to respond to the huge demand for repatriation at the end of the rainy season around October and are appealing again to donors for their generous support.
Nearly 290,000 Southern Sudanese refugees have gone home since UNHCR launched the repatriation operation three years ago. The number of returns has consistently grown in that time, with the record 60,000 in the first half of this year exceeding by 14,000 the total returns for all of 2007.
There are 128,600 refugees from southern Sudan in surrounding countries, mainly in Uganda (58,000), Kenya (32,000) and Ethiopia 25,140 and 13,400 in Egypt.