JUBA – Assistant High Commissioner for Operations at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Raouf Mazou today urged the international community to step up sustained support to provide South Sudan with climate-adapted development assistance to help it move away from dependency on humanitarian aid.
Concluding a five-day visit to the country, Mazou called for greater international focus and support for the country at a time when historic floods for four years in a row have left nearly one million people in desperate need of assistance.
Mazou visited Bentiu, in the north and hard hit by the floods, witnessing local initiatives aimed at protecting the population from the impact of flooding.
“People who suffered from years of conflict are now at the frontlines of a climate crisis that has stripped them off the means to support themselves. This cycle must be broken, and we appeal to donors to make more resources available so that we can step up aid,” said Mazou.
South Sudan hosts over 340,000 refugees, mainly from Sudan. The country has received over 600,000 refugee returnees from neighbouring countries since 2018.
In Torit, in the east and one of the areas hosting returnees, Mazou visited farming cooperatives where former refugees and local community members work together in a farming cooperative to earn a living.
Across the country, UNHCR continues to support South Sudan’s efforts to finding solutions for the forcibly displaced as well as those who are choosing to return home to rebuild their lives.
Through an initiative, Pockets of Hope, UNHCR is committed to helping those who return voluntarily to South Sudan establish a safe and dignified life through support for peacebuilding, governance and livelihoods in their areas of return, representing “pockets of hope”.
“I am inspired by the resilience of these communities and the potential for solutions. I encourage our development partners to offer strong investment support in these areas so that basic services are accessible to returning families and the communities that welcome them,” Mazou noted.
South Sudan is one of the twelve UNHCR operations globally that are critically underfunded in 2022, with a stark US$ 125 million funding gap. So far, less than half of what is needed for the humanitarian response in the country has been received.
South Sudan’s refugee crisis remains the largest in Africa, with over 2.3 million South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries. Another 6.8 million people need urgent life-saving aid owing to sporadic violence between communities amid worsening food insecurity.