Some 70,000 South Sudanese have fled the country to Uganda since the recent outbreak of violence in July, and agencies are planning for an additional influx of 80,000 people by the end of the year. Most of the people fleeing are women and children.
More refugees have fled to Uganda in the last 20 days than during the whole of 2015. The latest figures from the UN refugee agency report that an average of 2,000 people arrived into Uganda each day in the past few days.
“If the hostilities in South Sudan continue, people will flee to Uganda in high numbers in the months ahead. We urgently need funding now so we can scale up and respond to the people arriving. Additional sites already need to be built to host families who have arrived. The sites need shelter, toilets, clean water – and that’s just the basics,” said Enock Mambilli, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) Acting Country Director in South Sudan.
“Aid agencies need $600 million to respond to the South Sudan refugee crisis in Uganda, but have only received 20 per cent of that so far.”
More than 90 per cent of the new arrivals into Uganda are women and children. Many have walked for several days to get to the border, fleeing violence and insecurity along the way. Most of the women and children arriving are from Eastern Equatoria State, while some are from Upper Nile State and the capital Juba.
Many people cite active violence as the main reason for seeking refuge in Uganda. Other reasons reported for fleeing include the fear of further outbreaks of fighting, killings being carried out by armed groups, and food shortages.
NRC is working around the clock with the Government, UNHCR and aid agencies to register and provide relief to the new refugees in Uganda. “We are constructing shelter and toilets. As people are arriving with little possessions, we will also provide household items like soap, mosquito nets and tents,” said Hosana Adisu, NRC’s Country Representative in Uganda.
Many South Sudanese are fleeing to Uganda for the second and third time. Taban first fled to Uganda as a refugee in 1997, where he spent 9 years. When he returned home in 2006, he was certain that he would never be displaced again. Sadly, Taban fled to Uganda for a second time in July.
“When we first sought refuge in Uganda, we were not as many as we are now. I have more family members with me this time round,” said Taban. “However, my wife and 7-month-old baby are stuck in Yei. People are finding it difficult to move. The stress about their safety is weighing down heavily on me.”
- Uganda hosts over 550,000 refugees. This includes 300,000 refugees and asylum seekers from South Sudan, and over 200,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The world's youngest nation ranks among the countries with the highest levels of conflict-induced population displacement globally. Over 1.6 million people are displaced inside South Sudan, and more than 900,000 have fled to neighbouring countries since December 2013.
6 million people - more than half of South Sudan´s population - need humanitarian assistance.
Over 4.8 million people will face severe food shortages over the coming months, and the risk of a hunger catastrophe continues to threaten parts of the country.
The aid appeal for South Sudan is only 41 per cent funded, despite immense needs. Only US$526 million has been received so far, of a requested $1.29 billion.
Note to editors:
- NRC has spokespeople in Uganda and South Sudan available for interview.
- Photos are available for free use and distribution here: http://smu.gs/2aZfWxe
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is a humanitarian organization working in more than 25 countries globally. NRC has been working in Southern Sudan since 2004. It provides relief humanitarian assistance in the former states of Central Equatorial, Jongeli, Lakes, Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Unity, Warrap and Western Bahr el Ghazal. For more information the organization’s work in South Sudan, go to www.nrc.no/southsudan.