five young sudanese boys looking out a window

Students at Nyumanzi Integrated Primary School for Ugandan nationals and refugees from South Sudan, Nyumanzi, Uganda. © UNHCR/Jordi Matas

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley to whom quoted text may be attributed  at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and partners are today launching an appeal for US$2.7 billion for 2019 and 2020 to address the life-saving humanitarian needs of South Sudanese refugees.

Five years on since the civil war started, over 2.2 million South Sudanese refugees have sought safety in six neighbouring countries: Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR). Another 1.9 million are internally displaced inside South Sudan.

UNHCR welcomes the reduction in violence in parts of the country since the signing of a revitalized peace agreement in September. And we appeal to all parties to continue to respect and implement the agreement. UNHCR does not yet view the environment in South Sudan as being conducive for safe returns of refugees.

We also commend the continued generosity of host countries in maintaining open borders for South Sudanese refugees seeking safety, especially given the immense pressures on asylum countries. The scale of displacement means that funding has struggled to keep pace with needs. Hugely more international support and solidarity is urgently needed.

Schools are lacking teachers, classrooms, and educational materials, leaving half of South Sudan’s refugee children out of school. Health clinics have insufficient doctors, nurses and medications. Low funding has led to food rations being cut in Ethiopia. In Sudan, some refugees and their host communities are having to survive on merely five litres of water per person per day, inevitably leading to tensions. Opportunities for refugees to earn a living remain limited.

A key priority for UNHCR is the promotion of social cohesion programmes for refugees and their hosts to help the two communities in living together peacefully and harmoniously. In any refugee situation, it is vital that both communities are helped.

Sexual and gender-based violence and child protection remain primary concerns, as 83% of refugees are women and children. Many women have reported rape and other sexual or gender-based violence, along with the killings of their husbands and the abduction of children during flight.

Children too have in many cases experienced extreme violence and trauma, including the deaths of one or both parents. Many have become primary caregivers to younger siblings. Thousands of children have been forcibly recruited as child soldiers by armed groups. In 2018, UNHCR and partners received just 38% of the $1.4 billion requested to support South Sudanese refugees.


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Originally published by UNHCR on 18, December 2018


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