Uganda + 6 more

South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan Revised: January–December 2017 (May 2017)

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Strategic Overview

Period January to December 2017
Current Population 1,769,241 (at 31 March 2017)
Population Planning Figures 2,130,500 Target Beneficiaries2,130,500
Financial Requirements US$ 1,382,909,571
Number of Partners 58



Latest Developments in South Sudan

The conflict in South Sudan continues to intensify at a rapid pace. Prospects for the implementation of the Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) remains bleak despite renewed international mediation efforts by the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The peace process is yet to be accompanied by a comprehensive cessation of hostilities, further undermining the likelihood of national dialogue. The deployment of a 4,000-strong regional protection force under the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), which was mandated by the Security Council on 12 August 2016, has not yet materialized. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM–IO), previously recognized as a legitimate political opposition, and its members are now characterized by the Government as criminal elements and spoilers of the peace process. The political impasse has resulted in an escalation of the military confrontation and its impact on civilians as new alliances are created among various rebel groups in the Equatoria region and in Western Bahr El Gazal. Estimates place civilian deaths from the conflict in tens of thousands but in the absence of a reliable casualty tracking system, the real toll could be much higher.'

On 29 January 2017, a joint statement issued by the Chair of IGAD, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, the AU High Representative for South Sudan, the Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and the UN Secretary General expressed deep concern over the continuing spread of fighting and risk of inter-communal violence escalating into mass atrocities. Subsequently, the Report of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan submitted to the Human Rights Council in March 2017 further warned that “a process of ethnic cleansing was under way in the country” corroborating earlier findings by the UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide following his mission to South Sudan in November 2016. The conflict is characterized by violent attacks against civilians and community infrastructure by parties to the conflict causing large-scale forced displacement. Women and children are subjected to exploitation, abuse, abduction, and rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

Against this backdrop, 7.5 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance and protection in South Sudan as a result of armed conflict and widespread inter-communal violence. Deteriorating macroeconomic factors compound the complexity of the crisis. The exchange rate continues to plummet, fuel shortages are reported throughout the country and oil revenues remain stagnant and unable to offset the impact of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis. On 20 February 2017, the United Nations officially declared a state of famine in two counties of Unity State. Food insecurity has deteriorated to unprecedented levels in these areas owing to protracted violence arising from the ongoing conflict, displacement, and the lack of humanitarian access. Farmers cannot harvest their crops. A joint United Nations humanitarian food security assessment conducted in January 2017 found that more than 4.9 million people were severely food insecure, a figure that was expected to rise to 5.5 million by April 2017.

Forced Displacement Trends

The dynamics of forced displacement in South Sudan saw the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) increase to 1.9 million in 2017, which includes 215,000 displaced people living in UNMISS Protection of Civilian sites. Given the current lack of protection in most areas of the country, forcibly-displaced people are increasingly moving across international borders. Apart from northern Unity State, the large majority of IDPs are living behind the front lines in areas where their ethnic group controls territory.

Regional Refugee Outflows

The increase in South Sudanese refugees is currently one of the largest recorded worldwide: between mid-2013 and mid-2016, the number of refugees from South Sudan rose from 102,700 to 854,200. The first quarter of 2017 witnessed an acceleration of this trend. The simultaneous influx to the six countries of the Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRP), namely the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, reached 1.7 million by March 2017.

The current revision of the Regional RRP was prompted by larger than anticipated refugee movements into Sudan and Uganda in the first quarter of 2017. The end-of-year planning figure for Sudan was surpassed in March and if current trends continue, Uganda will exceed its planning figure in the second quarter of 2017. The revised Regional RRP contains updated response plans for Sudan and Uganda to address the increased needs in these two host countries and plans to cater for an overall population of 2.1 million South Sudanese refugees in the six countries of asylum.

Nine out of ten South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries are women and children. More than 75,000 South Sudanese refugee children are unaccompanied or separated from their parents. Serious abuses against civilians in South Sudan have been reported, including killing, torture, rape and other forms of SGBV, recruitment of child soldiers, and destruction of property and livelihoods resulting in thousands fleeing their homes and a continuing outflow of refugees to neighbouring countries.


From July 2016 through January 2017, more than 512,000 South Sudanese refugees arrived in Uganda at an average of 2,400 refugees per day. The influx reached 3,000 a day for several months, making Uganda the third-ranked refugee-hosting country in the world with close to one million refugees. The increased rate of refugee arrivals warranted the revision of the Uganda chapter of the 2017 Regional RRP. Initial planning in late 2016 had foreseen 300,000 new arrivals by end of 2017. However, the influx outpaced projections with 177,000 new arrivals already having entered Uganda by 31 March 2017 bringing the total number of South Sudanese refugees in the country since the onset of the crisis to more than 852,000. As a result, the Government of Uganda, UNHCR and RRP partners agreed to revise the projected arrival figure to 400,000 for 2017, increasing the overall RRP population planning figure for Uganda to 1,025,000 South Sudanese refugees.

The Government of Uganda adopted the innovative approach of integrating refugee management and protection into its Second National Development Plan (NDP II) through the Settlement Transformative Agenda (STA), in accordance with the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. The STA aims to sustainably assist refugees and host communities by promoting socioeconomic development in refugee-hosting areas, supported by the United Nations through the Refugee and Host Population Empowerment (ReHope) initiative, which was developed in collaboration with the World Bank. The approach is in conformity with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) called for by the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2016.

Uganda’s model of asylum enhances the self-reliance of refugees and host communities and is an example of good practice. Nonetheless, the lack of predictable development and humanitarian financing to respond to a displacement crisis of this magnitude could unravel these achievements. The table below illustrates the impact of the refugee influx on settlement growth in northern Uganda. Since July 2016, four settlements have been opened to accommodate the refugee influx each with capacity of less than 100,000 refugees. The number of South Sudanese refugees arriving in Uganda remains high as fighting in the Equatoria region continues. The majority of refugees are arriving from Yei, Morobo, Lainya, Kajo Keji and the surrounding areas of Central Equatoria. Most recently a military attack on 5 April in the South Sudanese town of Pajok caused 6,000 refugees to cross into the Lamwo area of Uganda. The influx is expected to continue as sporadic military attacks continue to trigger cross border movements.


Conflict and heightened food insecurity in South Sudan, especially in the north-western States of Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Unity and Warrap, were the main triggers of the South Sudanese refugee influx into East and South Darfur and West Kordofan in 2016. The refugee influx into Sudan is expected to continue throughout 2017.

The 2017 Regional RRP for South Sudan had initially planned for 330,000 South Sudanese refugees arriving by the end of the year. However, the total number of South Sudanese refugees in Sudan had already reached 379,000 by 31 March 2017, surpassing the planned figure in the first quarter of the year. In light of the accelerated pace of the influx, RRP partners agreed to undertake a revision to increase total planning figure to 477,000 by year-end. This increase in the planning figure was the basis for the revision of the Sudan country chapter of the Regional RRP.

Increased food assistance to South Sudanese refugees remains of paramount importance as a nutrition assessment conducted across refugee sites in White Nile State (October 2016) identified a Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate higher than 15 per cent, as well as a Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) rate of more than 3 per cent, surpassing the emergency thresholds. The nutritional status of South Sudanese refugees remains a pressing concern as those entering Sudan are coming from areas currently facing emergency levels of acute malnutrition (IPC Phase 4). GAM rates have risen above emergency thresholds in all South Sudan states, with GAM rates doubling in Unity State and approaching extremely high levels in Northern Bahr el Ghazal. Food security is expected to deteriorate to extreme levels from February to May 2017 in northern South Sudan. Of greatest concern are the situations in Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Western Bahr el Ghazal. In a worst-case scenario where conflict intensifies and humanitarian access is further limited, famine (IPC Phase 5), marked by high levels of excess mortality, is possible. Furthermore, a recent assessment indicates that in some sites in White Nile, 40 per cent of the population is food insecure, while 54-94 per cent of camp-based South Sudanese refugees cannot afford local food prices. The main drivers of food insecurity are the lack of livelihood opportunities, limited access to cooking fuel, restriction of movement in some areas, high prices on local commodities and limited access to land for farming.

UNHCR is coordinating the emergency response with the Government of Sudan and RRP partners in line with the Refugee Coordination Model (RCM). Priorities of the response include health and nutrition, sanitation, basic relief items, and protection including child protection and SGBV. In a positive development, a humanitarian corridor for food aid into famine-struck South Sudan was opened by the Government of Sudan on 26 March 2017. The corridor runs from El Obeid in central Sudan to Bentiu, in Unity State, South Sudan, where over 100,000 people are affected by famine amid a deepening humanitarian crisis. The new aid corridor is expected to allow more timely delivery of food and reduce reliance on expensive air operations.

The Government of Sudan maintains an open-door asylum policy, which allows South Sudanese refugees to remain in Sudan and enjoy the same rights as Sudanese citizens, including freedom of movement, access to employment and public services. In September 2016, the Government of Sudan conferred legal refugee status to South Sudanese new arrivals, enabling them to benefit from the rights prescribed under applicable international refugee law. The Government of Sudan’s strategy seeks to gradually transition from an exclusively humanitarian response towards integrating an early recovery and development approach. This will provide opportunities to enhance solutions for refugees, and provide much-needed support to refugee-hosting communities. Nonetheless, without solidarity from the donor community to address the humanitarian needs of vulnerable refugees in Sudan, their already precarious levels of resilience will be further eroded. In the absence of the adequate assistance and in the face of continuing influx, South Sudanese refugees might be pushed to resort to negative coping strategies and risk falling prey to traffickers or seek to move onwards to improve their situation.


At the end of March 2017 Ethiopia hosted 366,000 South Sudanese refugees and remained within its planning figure of 405,000 for the 2017 Regional RRP. March marked the end of the dry season, which saw the arrival rate from South Sudan increase to 13,225 within the first 25 days, higher than the past monthly average. The new Nguenyyiel camp is fast reaching its capacity of 60,000. Through effective coordination, RRP partners identified an additional site and are developing the facilities to prevent congestion at the Pagak Reception Centre after the Nguenyyiel camp reaches capacity. The aim is to consolidate Nguyenyyiel camp, including health and nutrition facilities, the water and sanitation system, emergency refugee shelters and latrines. Key priorities are the provision of comprehensive education, reinforcement of child protection and SGBV services with a particular emphasis given to youth projects considering that 24 per cent of the new arrivals are youth of 15-24 years old. Protection interventions and provision of basic services will continue at the Pagak Reception Centre.

Potential entry points continue to be monitored to ensure new arrivals have access to asylum procedures. Reports received from South Sudan in April 2017 point to a deteriorating security situation in the Akobo area resulting in large population movements that could result in an influx of up to 200,000 refugees into the Gambella region of Ethiopia. The situation is being monitored and contingency measures are being taken to respond should the influx materialize.


South Sudanese new arrivals continue to arrive in Kenya at a relatively moderate pace, with over 6,700 registered in 2017. The Regional RRP planning figure for Kenya remains at 108,000. The profile of new arrivals is predominantly women and children. New arrivals cite insecurity and food scarcity as the cause of their flight. The Government of Kenya, through the Refugee Affairs Secretariat (RAS) and RRP partners continue to provide basic assistance in Kakuma, including to 1,784 unaccompanied and 8,699 separated children. Food rations are only meeting 70 per cent of refugees’ nutritional requirements. In-kind and cash-based interventions are provided to refugees in Kakuma and Kalobeyei but food insecurity of both refugee and host communities remains a cause for concern and a recurrent challenge aggravated by the onset of drought in Kenya that has led to failed crops, decimated livestock and destroyed livelihoods in Turkana’s predominantly pastoralist economy.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Regional RRP planning figure for South Sudanese refugees in the DRC stands at 105,000. A total of 74,000 people have arrived in Dungu and, increasingly, to Faradje Territory in Haut-Uele Province. The new movement of refugees poses logistical challenges in reaching Faradje, where some 18,000 refugees are hosted at Meri site. This is nearly three times the number initially anticipated. The lack of even the most basic infrastructure, such as health posts and schools, and the logistical complexity of delivering assistance increases the costs of supporting refugees in these remote areas. The security situation in the DRC is volatile and continues to pose risks to the few humanitarian actors operating in the area. Specific threats in the refugee arrival areas include activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and other armed groups in Haut-Uele Province as well as cross-border incursions by armed elements from South Sudan. This situation requires strengthened security measures for the safety of refugees and humanitarian staff, and measures to ensure the civilian character of asylum. Relocation away from the border has become an even more pressing priority due to the fragile security context. The Congolese authorities have proposed additional sites in Haut-Uele Province for this purpose, but the plan has not been taken forward due to financial constraints.

Central African Republic

The Regional RRP planning figure for South Sudanese refugees in CAR remains at 10,500. By March 2016 arrivals to the village of Bambouti had reached 4,900 South Sudanese refugees. In November and December 2016, close to 1,700 refugees were relocated from Bambouti to Obo; the remaining refugees opted to remain in Bambouti to monitor their property on the other side of the border. Registration in January 2017 using the Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS) enabled the issuance of ID cards, valid for five years, to some 1,600 South Sudanese refugees residing in Obo. Obo was designed following an open settlement concept to promote peaceful co-existence between refugees and the host communities. The site is adjacent to farmland made available to refugees by the authorities. This initiative, which will soon be complemented by a distribution of seeds and tools, will help to strengthen the self-reliance of refugees. In the interim, RRP partners continue to supply food for the population in addition to non-food items (NFI), WASH and shelter assistance. The strategy aims at promoting local integration by supporting local health and education facilities for host communities in refugee-receiving areas.

Strategic Objectives

The following four strategic objectives underpin the 2017 South Sudan RRRP:

1. Uphold the quality of asylum for South Sudanese refugees in the region by meeting their lifesaving needs according to applicable minimum standards, in particular through:
 Mitigation of heightened protection risks faced by women, children and youth, who constitute an overwhelming majority of the South Sudanese refugee population, and provision of adequate services to victims of violence and other protection risks;
 Full integration of community-based protection mechanisms into refugee assistance programmes to strengthen food and nutritional security and existing coping mechanisms of refugees;
 Increasing refugee access to quality and inclusive education and basic health services by maximizing synergies with national systems to address the needs of vulnerable host communities;
 Broadening economic opportunities available to refugees by supporting policies that offer alternatives to camps and access to self-reliance activities benefiting both refugee and host communities;
 Implementing environmentally sound refugee site planning that ensures sustainable access to water and sanitation;
 Supporting peace education and other initiatives aimed at encouraging co-existence among refugee communities of different ethnicities, as well as between refugees and their hosts.

2. Anchor the response within national and regional multi-year protection frameworks, policies, laws, and standards which address legal and physical protection needs of South Sudanese refugees.

3. Enhance biometric registration, documentation and data management in collaboration with host Governments to support the implementation of durable solutions strategies. Aggregate socio-economic data on livelihoods and skills profiles to improve evidence-based joint programming with line ministries, humanitarian partners, the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other multilateral development agencies.

4. Proactively explore and, where applicable, pursue innovative approaches stemming from participatory assessments with refugees, Governments, humanitarian and development actors, private sector, and civil society, with a view to introduce cash-based interventions (CBIs) and other initiatives to alleviate the dependency of refugees on aid.