The Evaluation of UNHCR’s response to the refugee emergency in Ethiopia and Uganda follows from the declaration of the L3 emergency for South Sudan on 3 February 2014.1 It 20 was undertaken in line with UNHCR’s revised Policy on Emergency Response, Activation, Leadership and Activities approved by the High Commissioner on 21st January 2015.
On 15 December 2013, clashes broke out in Juba between competing factions within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) which constituted the backbone of the Government, and the situation quickly degenerated into a full-scaled conflict along ethnic lines. By the beginning of 2015 there were approximately 1.5 million IDPs registered in South Sudan and over 500,000 South Sudanese refugees in the neighbouring countries in addition to the 130,000 who had fled before the December 2013 violence, for a total of over 630,000 refugees. This influx stretched the local absorption capacities considering that these 30 countries were already hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees such as Somalis in Ethiopia and Kenya, Congolese in Uganda and Eritreans in Sudan. The vast majority of refugees were women and children. The speed and magnitude of the influx appears to have taken everyone by surprise.
A Regional (Refugee) Response Plan (RRP) was elaborated in March 2014 incorporating the financial requirements of UNHCR, other UN agencies, IOs and NGOs for a total of USD 370 million and targeting the needs of 340,000 refugees. The RRP was revised in July 2014 with a new total of USD 657 million and targeting the needs of 715,000 refugees. Whilst views on the value of the RRP as a fundraising tool were mixed, many stakeholders interviewed felt 40 that it was a useful tool for top-level coordination and setting out the comprehensive financial requirements of the response. The RRP could not, however, standardise the response across countries, partly due to differing host country policies towards refugees. Moreover, it did not contain a recognisable results framework, instead setting out a list of planned activities.
The Uganda and Ethiopia budgets included in the RRP of $ 224.3 million and $210.9 million were funded at the rate of 48% and 57% respectively out of which the UNHCR portions, 123 million for Uganda and 90 million for Ethiopia were 44% and 59% funded. The funding pipeline was problematic for UNHCR and some of its partners who had to pre-finance their operations or intervene with their own funding for the first quarter. Moreover, partners 50 received money in a piecemeal fashion requiring constant budgetary revisions.