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UN agencies appeal for upkeep of S. Sudan refugees

31 March 2014, 12:23

Nairobi - The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP) requested for more than US$ 370 million to fund the upkeep of South Sudan refugees in Kenya and neighbouring countries.

The refugees have, apart from Kenya, fled to Ethiopia, Republic of Sudan and Uganda.

Inside South Sudan, WFP is facing a funding shortfall of $224 million over the next six months, while humanitarian partners require a further $42 million for shelter and other non-food items.

Alarmed at the impact of ongoing violence in South Sudan, the heads of the two agencies arrived in South Sudan on Monday on a joint trip to meet conflict-affected people and to review the on-going response and needs amid a spiraling humanitarian crisis.

More than 800 000 people have been displaced in South Sudan by the conflict, which flared up last December.

This includes 68 000 people who are sheltering in UN peacekeeping bases. A further 254 000 refugees have crossed into neighbouring countries seeking shelter and food.

Additionally, South Sudan was also hosting some 220 000 refugees from Sudan in camps close to conflict areas.

WFP’s Executive Director Ertharin Cousin and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres will spend two days in South Sudan to meet displaced people, partners and local authorities, before crossing over the border to meet some of the more than 80 000 refugees in Ethiopia.

“It is heartbreaking to see that some of the very people who had fled the war two decades ago, people we helped to return to South Sudan after independence, are having to flee for their lives again, many back to the very same places where they lived in exile,” said Guterres in a statement made available in Nairobi.

Cousin said refugees were in acute need.

"Humanitarians require two things: safe access to those in need and the funds to bring in lifesaving supplies – food, shelter, vaccines, healthcare and other aid. Several countries have contributed generously, but at current levels we are only able to cover a fraction of the needs,” Cousin added.

In the more than 100 days since the start of the conflict more than half a million people have received food assistance inside the country but continued conflict, combined with the onset of the rainy season has made it difficult to reach many people in need.  

The relief effort has been further hampered by a severe lack of funds.

 - CAJ News

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