S. Sudan: UN launches appeal for humanitarian assistance
The United Nations on Tuesday launched an appeal for humanitarian operation funds; a day after an estimated 12,000 South Sudanese started leaving Khartoum for Juba, the South Sudan capital. The humanitarian airlift operation from Kosti, via Khartoum, which started on 14 May is being organised by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and supported by both the governments of Sudan and South Sudan. “The scope of the humanitarian operation in South Sudan is enormous,” Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan told a media briefing in Juba. “We must meet our commitments to the people of South Sudan as we approach the first anniversary of independence,” she added.
Describing the humanitarian operation in South Sudan as "one of the largest and most complex” in the region, Grande said although the consolidated appeal for South Sudan covers 271 projects estimated at $776m, only 32 percent have to-date been funded.
The UN, it’s humanitarian coordinator noted, has been conducting more than 30 separate emergency operations in South Sudan prior to the airlifting process, adding that the agency will continue providing humanitarian assistance to those airlifted. On arrival to Juba, these returnees, mainly women and children are provided with temporary accommodation until they are able to proceed to their final place of settlement. A new transit site, earmarked to offer sufficient capacity and host larger groups, is reportedly being established by humanitarian partners with the support of the Central Equatoria State authorities, the ministry of humanitarian affairs and disaster management, and the relief and rehabilitation commission. “It is very moving to see people arriving in the world’s newest country. Many of these families have been waiting for months and months to return. We saw babies who had been born in Kosti and were coming home to start a new life in a new country,” said Grande.
More than 375,000 South Sudanese, according to the UN, have returned from neighbouring Sudan since 2011. In addition, it says nearly 20,000 people have been displaced due to border violence in the months of March and April; 170,000 affected by inter-communal fighting in Jonglei State in January and at least 110,000 displaced from the contested area of Abyei a year ago.
Meanwhile the UN also expressed concerns over the increasing number of refugees arriving from Sudan’s Southern Kordofan state, reportedly averaging 550 per day in May, almost six times more than the number arriving in March. "Working in some of the most difficult conditions imaginable, UNHCR [United Nations High Commission for Refugees] has been able to rapidly scale-up refugee operations,” said Grande, who was flanked by Mirelle Girard, UNHCR Representative for South Sudan.
"Refugees are arriving in South Sudan exhausted after days of walking. Many are traumatised, and an increasing number of children are malnourished. Refugees tell us that they are coming to South Sudan because they are hungry,” she added.
Currently, UNHCR and its partners are reportedly involved in building life-sustaining infrastructure and support systems to cater for about 70,000 refugees in Maban County, Upper Nile state, said to be desperately in need of water supply.
With an estimated 4.7 million people at risk of food insecurity in South Sudan, the UN says the combination of food shortfalls, conflict-related displacement, agricultural disruption, a deteriorating economy and border closures are is likely to further worsen the situation. "We are very worried about the situation along the border. In Northern Bahr el Ghazal, the price of sorghum, a staple food item, nearly doubled in just two weeks," Grande said.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s) and not do necessarily reflect the views of the AfricaFiles' editors and network members. They are included in our material as a reflection of a diversity of views and a variety of issues. Material written specifically for AfricaFiles may be edited for length, clarity or inaccuracies.