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UN refugee agency sounds alarm on spike in
number of South Sudanese fleeing to Sudan 

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The UN Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Monday sounded alarm on the sharp increase of South Sudanese fleeing to Sudan since the start of 2017, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters here.

UNHCR says “it has seen a significant increase in South Sudanese refugees fleeing to Sudan since January,” Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.

Initial expectations were that 60,000 refugees may arrive through 2017, but in the first two months of the year alone, more than 31,000 refugees have arrived.

Initial estimates show that more than 80 percent of the new arrivals are women and children, including unaccompanied and separated children.

“They are in need of immediate life-saving assistance, which UNHCR and its sister agencies are trying to address,” Dujarric said.

Sudan is one of South Sudan’s neighboring countries to host a massive influx of South Sudanese refugees. More than 1.5 million South Sudanese refugees have fled to neighboring countries in the region, around half of which are located in Uganda.

South Sudan has been shattered by civil war that broke out in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup. Machar denied the accusation but then mobilized a rebel force.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 led to the formation of a transitional unity government in April, but was again devastated by fresh violence in July 2016.

Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, with more than 2 million displaced and another 4.6 million left severely food insecure, since December 2013.



UN says over 31,000 South Sudanese refugees
arrived in Sudan in January, February

KHARTOUM Sudan (Xinhua) -- The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Monday said over 31,000 South Sudanese refugees arrived in Sudan during January and February this year.

“Initial expectations were that 60,000 refugees may arrive through 2017, but in the first two months alone, over 31,000 refugees arrived,” said UNHCR in a statement on Monday.

It explained that initial estimates show that over 80 percent of the new arrivals are women and children, including unaccompanied and separated children, noting that “they are in need of immediate life-saving assistance, which UNHCR and its sister agencies are trying to address.”

Noriko Yoshida, UNHCR’s representative in Sudan, said in the statement that “we are extremely concerned at people’s condition when they arrive, especially children who are suffering the most.”

Last Thursday, Sudanese Commissioner for Refugees Hamad Al-Jizouli said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua that “the number of South Sudanese refugees in Sudan so far has reached 495,000.”

On Aug. 15 last year, Sudan officially decided to treat the South Sudanese fleeing the war in their country as refugees, which opens the door for the UN to provide them with aid and fund aid programs.

Recently famine was officially declared in South Sudan, where the South Sudanese government and the UN said 100,000 people facing starvation, with one million people classified as being on the brink of famine.

The famine was attributed to many reasons including the civil war and collapse of the economy in the new-born state.


South Sudan, UN agree to boost agribusiness development

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have agreed to jointly implement a project worth 500,000 U.S. dollars aimed at promoting  collaboration in small-scale agriculture and agro-processing, a senior government official said on Monday.

Minister of Trade and Investment Moses Hassan Tiel said the partnership seeks to strengthen food security through advancement of small scale farming, agro-processing and product certification in the conflict-hit East African nation.

“We are working together with UNIDO to develop policy documents to help us with quality assurance and certification for agricultural products produced here in South Sudan. We are working hard to make sure that agriculture products are processed here in South Sudan to boost agriculture and our economy,” Tiel said

He said the new project would prioritize improvement of honey products, fruits such as mangoes and pineapples and Gum Arabic in order to diversify the economy of the oil-reliant country.

Tiel said South Sudan’s first honey export to Japan and Kenya last year ignited the hopes of scale farmers to engage in commercial agriculture.

The world’s youngest country is blessed with enormous agricultural wealth that remains untapped due to years of conflict, lack of land policies and poor infrastructure.

According to data from the Ministry of Food Security and Agriculture, 648,000 square kilometers of the African country is arable, home to 11.7 million heads of cattle and is also capable of producing 400 tons of fish annually from its vast Swamps and the River Nile.

Despite the huge opportunities, last week the UN declared famine in parts of South Sudan.

The UN said the disaster is man-made after the world’s newest country plunged into civil war in 2013 following a political rift between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.

Tiel said the government seeks to support small scale farmers with necessary skills to help boost food production. 

“It is now a priority that we encourage our small scale farmers to grow much so that we restore food security in South Sudan and also level the trade balance because currently we import most of our food products including vegetables,” he said.



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