Switzerland: South Sudan’s refugee crisis now world’s fastest growing - UNHCR

Geneva, Switzerland (PANA) - Eight months after fresh violence erupted in South Sudan, a famine produced by the vicious combination of fighting and drought is now driving the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.

Babar Baloch, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a press briefing in Geneva that total displacement from South Sudan into the surrounding region is now 1.6 million people.

"The rate of new displacement is alarming, representing an impossible burden on a region that is significantly poorer and which is fast running short of resources to cope," he said.

"No neighbouring country is immune. Refugees are fleeing into Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Central African Republic."

Baloch said almost half have crossed into Uganda, where in the country’s north, the situation is now critical, adding that until recently they were seeing new arrivals there at a rate of around 2,000 people daily.

He said the influx peaked in February at more than 6,000 in a single day. In March, the peak in a single day has been more than 5,000 with the current daily average of over 2,800 arrivals.

Baloch said a result of the rapid influx is that transit facilities in northern Uganda set up to deal with the newly arriving refugees from South Sudan are becoming overwhelmed. Recent rains in the area have not helped matters, and are adding to the misery.

"Today’s situation in Uganda is proving to be the first and major test of commitments made at last September’s Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York, including a key commitment to apply a game-changing approach to refugee situations worldwide - known as the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF)."

He said Uganda is a frontline state for this new approach adding that along with 5 other countries it has agreed to champion the CRRF by taking actions to integrate humanitarian efforts with developmental ones which include providing land to refugees, including refugees in national development plans, and allowing them to access job markets.

Baloch warned that these efforts are at grave risk of failing unless there is urgent and large-scale additional support.

At present funding for South Sudanese refugees in the region is at just 8 per cent out of the required US$781.8 million. UNHCR’s own funding appeal for Uganda is short by more than a quarter of a billion dollars (US$267 million).
-0- PANA MA/VAO 17March2017

17 march 2017 13:50:02

xhtml CSS