Juba, South Sudan,
June 13, 2021 – At least 93 humanitarian partners are seeking to raise $1.2 billion to improve the living conditions of over 2 million South Sudanese who have sought refuge and asylum in neighboring and regional countries.
According to the South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP), a report compiled by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spanning from January 2020 to December 2021, at least 66,000 of the 2.2 million refugees in regional and neighboring countries are children registered unaccompanied or separated from their parents and caregivers.
In the document obtained by Nyamilepedia, Ms. Clementine Nkweta Salami, UNHCR Regional Director, Regional Bureau for East and Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes, says part of the much-needed funds would be channeled in rebuilding the livelihood of these children.
“In 2021, RRRP partners will prioritize the strengthening of national child protection systems including birth registration, family reunification, and alternative care placement, as well as enhancing access to quality education,” Nkweta says.
She adds that “RRRP partners will also intensify GBV prevention and response, prioritize support to persons with specific needs, consolidate community-based protection mechanisms, and scale-up psychosocial and mental health support.”
The Regional Director says despite some progress in the revitalized peace process, more South Sudanese, especially those in areas devastated by communal violence and natural disasters like floods, continue to flee their country in search of safety and better living condition.
“In 2020, despite COVID-19 restrictions imposed by asylum states at border entry points, some 40,000 South Sudanese refugees obtained asylum in neighboring countries. The tremendous generosity shown by asylum states to South Sudanese needs to be urgently sustained through greater international solidarity,” she says.
Despite finding asylum, the RRRP report indicates that life has been somewhat unsustainable to South Sudanese refugees in regional countries, a phenomenon that forced thousands to willing return to their home country just to be greeted by misery characterized by famine and insecurity.
“Over 120,000 South Sudanese refugee returnees were verified to have spontaneously returned to South Sudan from various countries of asylum of the region, cited drastic food ration cuts in countries of asylum among the reasons that prompted their return to their country, often ending up in IDP sites or experiencing further instances of forced displacement across borders,” the report reads in part.
The report says the situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, limitations on humanitarian access amid a surge in the killing of aid workers, and severe flooding.
A blend of conflict and bad weather has resulted in poor crop production which has led to food insecurity, pushing 7 million people on the brink of hunger.
The number has gone up as of May 2021; 7.5 million people are currently food insecure according to reports by the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Ms. Nkweta says the response plan to tackle challenges faced by refugees from South Sudan has been the most underfunded notwithstanding the dire need for humanitarian support.
“The complex nature of forced displacement faced by South Sudan in 2021 will require a surge in international support to the RRRP, combined with other humanitarian, development, and peace instruments to address root causes and support the longer-term goals that are required for sustainable peace and development,” she said.
“Despite soaring needs, the South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan was among the most critically underfunded refugee situations globally in 2020, receiving only 25 percent of the resources required,” Nkweta added.
According to the regional statistics, there are currently 757,000 South Sudanese refugees in neighboring Sudan, 400,000 in Ethiopia, a sizeable 60,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 129,000 in Kenya, and a whopping 938,000 in Uganda.