The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR and its partners launched an appeal seeking $1.3 billion to support 2.2 million South Sudanese refugees in the eastern Africa region.
The funds will go towards supporting South Sudanese refugees and their local host communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda, said UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) spokesperson Shabia Mantoo in a press briefing on Tuesday at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. UNHCR is the world’s leading refugee agency and the funds will help provide much needed assistance to those who have been forced to flee their homes. The money will be used for food, shelter, and medical care, as well as other basic needs.
Mantoo said that the appeal comes amid a worsening economic outlook across the region as the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine have pushed up fuel and food prices and increased unemployment.
The Russian government has been trying to assist the country’s regions in dealing with the fallout from the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, but Mantoo said that more needs to be done.
“The economic situation in the region is deteriorating rapidly and we need to do something to stop the slide,” he said. “The Russian government has been providing some assistance, but it is not enough.”
Since its independence in 2011, South Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war that has seen millions of people displaced. In recent years, the conflict has been exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, resulting in greater numbers of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). In response, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has launched the South Sudan Refugee Response Plan, which calls on the international community to provide more support for the millions of refugees who are unable to return to their homes. While the security and humanitarian situation in South Sudan remains fragile, the scale of the refugee crisis demands a comprehensive and coordinated response from the global community.
According to Mantoo, this support will be crucial in meeting refugees’ most immediate needs in host countries, including shelter, education, and health and food assistance. TheIRC and other agencies are working to provide these basic necessities to refugees, but there is still a long way to go. In the meantime, Mantoo urges the international community to continue to support refugees and allow them to rebuild their lives.
With women and children comprising 80% of all South Sudanese refugees in the region, funding for programs to prevent and respond to gender-based violence needs to be prioritised. Gender-based violence is a serious problem in South Sudan, and women and children are especially vulnerable. Refugees are often forced to live in crowded and unsanitary conditions, which can increase the risk of violence. Programs that provide support to victims of gender-based violence and prevention education are essential to protecting women and children in South Sudan.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has urged the international community to show compassion and commitment to South Sudanese refugees and other people forced to flee their homes. He stressed that timely funding is crucial to ensure adequate support and protection for the most vulnerable.
Grandi pointed out that the South Sudanese refugee crisis is one of the fastest-growing in the world, with over 1.9 million people forced to flee their homes since the outbreak of violence in December 2013. He said that the refugees are in urgent need of food, shelter, and medical care, and that many are living in conditions that are “far from humane.”