Panafrican News Agency

UNHCR says refugees in Sudan most worried about violence, health and food

Khartoum, Sudan (PANA)- Refugees living in Sudan are weary of security, food and health care, according to a report released on Monday in Khartoum by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Security from violence, affordable health-care and enough food are the main concerns refugees from different nationalities and ages, including children and elderly men and women, expressed in UNHCR’s new report 'Being a refugee in Sudan'.

A UNHCR press release said this Participatory Assessment Report is the result of nearly 600 events and interviews the UN Refugee Agency and partners undertook across Sudan with over 6,000 participants.

“Refugees themselves are the experts on what it feels like being a refugee in Sudan”, said UNHCR Representative Axel Bisschop.

 “These consultations with women, men, boys and girls help us, our partners and the authorities understand their concerns better and provide more efficient support.”

Physical security surfaced as a top concern in different regions: refugees and asylum-seekers reported that some locals would steal from them or exploit them as cheap or unpaid labour. Physical and sexual violence remained a concern, they complained in focus group discussions.

At the time of the consultations, impunity for crimes committed against refugees was a major issue especially in Darfur.

The report said health was another recurring theme. Some refugees had struggled to get medical attention, others found the needed medications or visiting a doctor unaffordable - a problem also affecting pregnant women.

UNHCR’s consultations also revealed that many refugee children did not attend school and were rather occupied trying to earn some money to buy food and basic necessities to help their families.

The 86-page report covers over 12 ethnic groups in 13 states, it features solutions proposed by refugees – from more police patrols to patient-friendly opening hours of clinics. They recommend that many problems could be addressed by letting them work. Refugee men and women across Sudan want to sustain themselves, and provide for their families.

The press release quoted the report as saying that the government of Sudan has already made positive pledges at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva in December 2019.

These pledges include inclusion of refugees in the national health and education systems as well as providing them access to the labour market.

UNHCR said it looks forward to supporting the government on this path and called on development agencies and donors to boost their engagement for education, health and livelihoods for refugees in Sudan.

“The whole purpose of the participatory assessment is to help us, the authorities and partners to strengthen the response to the worrying issues raised”, concluded Bisschop.

-0- PANA  MO/AR 28Sept2020