by Ronald Ssekandi
ADJUMANI, Uganda (Xinhua) -- Over three
years of gun fire and now famine is pushing South Sudanese to the
edge leaving them with no option but to flee their motherland.
At several refugee reception centers in northern Uganda, thousands
of South Sudanese queue to be registered as refugees.
According to the UN refugee agency, United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an average of about 4,000 South
Sudanese cross the border into Uganda seeking refuge.
"If famine continues, we should expect more people to come.
"More and more people are reporting that famine is one of the
reasons they are leaving," Ajit Fernando, Deputy Representative
UNHCR Uganda told Xinhua in an interview on Thursday.
At least here, according to humanitarian agencies, the refugees
are assured of a regular meal as compared to back home where they
were left to eating leaves in order to survive.
The UN last week announced that famine had broken out in South
Sudan, warning that war and a collapsing economy have left some
100,000 people facing starvation and a further 1 million people are
classified as being on the brink of famine.
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, many
families have exhausted every means they have to survive.
Many people who are predominantly farmers have lost their
livestock, even their farming tools.
According to relief agencies, this situation is the worst hunger
catastrophe since fighting erupted more than three years ago between
rival forces - the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to
President Salva Kiir and the SPLA in Opposition backing former First
Vice-President Riek Machar.
Escaping the hunger pangs and fleeing to Uganda can only be a
temporary measure. Humanitarian agencies in Uganda argue that their
resources are stretched to the limit and are just struggling to fend
for the swelling number of refugees in the country.
The country, according to UN figures, hosts over 1 million
refugees mostly from neighboring South Sudan where fighting has
persisted since late 2013.
The UN World Food Program (WFP) says while it is able to provide
food and nutrition assistance to any number of refugees, there must
be the necessary funding.
"Right now we have a funding shortfall of 60 million dollars
through July, and needs have been rising quickly - we now require
around 14 million dollars per month to meet the food needs of
refugees in Uganda, which is double the monthly requirement of six
months ago," Lydia Wamala, Public Information Officer WFP Uganda
told Xinhua on Wednesday.
Because of the funding shortages, since August last year, the
food aid agency reduced the size of food rations for refugees who
arrived in the country before mid-2015, a reduction that affects
about 200,000 people.
"So far we have managed to avoid needing to make further cuts
since then, but just barely, and we cannot rule out having to make
additional reductions unless we receive significant new funding,"
The refugees are now at the mercy of the international community
to come to their rescue. Recent appeals to the community have not
yet yielded the desired results.
Last year humanitarian agencies and Uganda appealed for 1 billion
U.S. dollars to enable them cater for the rising number of refuges.
However since then, only 36 percent of the required money has been
raised and yet the need is rising day by day.
Fernando argues that as funds for catering for the refugees are
being sought, there should be patience noting that there is a
massive refugee crisis in the world.
"We will not be able to do everything overnight but it is
gradual. What we want to do is not lose what we have gained," he
The European Union (EU) on Thursday announced an additional 10
million euros to help address the refugee crisis in Uganda.
The money which is channeled through a project European Union
Trust Fund will be used to improve the livelihood of the refugees in
the long run.
The three-year project had already received 10 million euros.
"Uganda is not alone. Uganda can continue counting on the EU’s
support to such a challenging endeavor," Michelle Labeeu, an
official at the EU office here, said.
UN refugee agency opens new
site in Uganda to host refugees from South Sudan
UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) --
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has opened a new
settlement area in northern Uganda to host thousands of refugees
arriving from South Sudan, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told
reporters here Thursday.
"The new settlement was opened after another settlement opened in
December 2016 quickly reached its capacity," Dujarric said at a
daily news briefing.
The new settlement is expected to be able to accommodate up to
110,000 new arrivals in the weeks and months ahead, he said.
South Sudan is now Africa’s largest refugee crisis and the
world’s third largest, only behind Syria and Afghanistan.
Uganda has started to feel the pinch of hosting an influx of
refugees amid acute funding pressures and says international support
is urgently needed to help it accommodate the refugees.
Uganda is hosting over one million refugees, half of them from
neighboring South Sudan where fighting is still continuing.
On average 4,000 South Sudanese are said to cross the border
daily into Uganda.
The East African country has gained global acknowledgment for its
open refugee policy at a time when more and more countries are
closing their doors to refugees who are fleeing for their lives.
The other refugees hosted in different parts of the country are
mainly from neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda,
Burundi while some are from Eritrea and Ethiopia.
The World Food Program last year warned that it was going to be
forced to cut food aid to refugees in the country further than the
current 50 percent due to severe funding shortages.
Uganda, whose refugee resettlement process is said to be a model
for other nations, now hosts one of the largest number of refugees
in Africa, putting a significant burden on relief agencies, Ugandan
authorities and local population.
UN says security key to
revamping food basket of South Sudan
JUBA South Sudan(Xinhua) --
Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)
David Shearer said on Thursday that improved security is essential
to reinvigorating food production disrupted by fighting in former
Western Equatoria region.
Shearer said a wide range of food products for the rest of the
war-torn country came from the region, but production has slowed
because farmers are no longer able to plant crops due to ongoing
insecurity and displacement.
"Security is the key to getting farmers back to their land,
security was also essential on the road network to allow trade and
the distribution of agricultural products," Shearer said in a
statement issued in Juba.
This came after the UN on Monday declared famine in parts of
South Sudan, especially some 100,000 people believed to be starving
in the northern Unity state, and a further one million on the brink
of starvation while 5.5 million (40 percent) of the population are
in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
Shearer also lauded local authorities for their commitment to
boost agricultural production and move towards self-sufficiency.
UNMISS hopes the imminent swearing-in of the new Governor of
Gbudwe State will be an opportunity to reset and improve relations
between local communities and government forces operating there.
The UNMISS Head also said he supports reconciliation efforts,
especially to reintegrate young people into the community who had
joined armed groups active in the area.
The region has of late experienced relative calm, since the
renewed July clash spillover caused insecurity due to intermittent
fighting between government troops (SPLA) and SPLA-in opposition (SPLA-IO)
alongside armed groups like Arrow boys.
495,000 South Sudanese
refugees present in Sudan: Sudanese official
KHARTOUM Sudan (Xinhua) --
A Sudanese official on Thursday
announced that the number of South Sudanese refugees in Sudan so far
has reached 495,000.
"Presently we have 495,000 South Sudanese refugees in Sudan,
where they are distributed in Khartoum, White Nile, East Darfur,
West Kordofan and South Kordofan states, and in less figures in
South and North Darfur States," Hamad Al-Jizouli, Sudanese
Commissioner for Refugees, said in an exclusive interview with
He expected the number of South Sudanese refugees in Sudan to
increase due to the security tension in the south together with the
South Sudan government’s declaration of famine in some parts of the
"The influxes of refugees are still continuing as they are
related to the current reality of continued war and declaration of
famine in South Sudan," he said.
He explained that the Sudanese Commission for Refugees and the
United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) are providing
the necessary services for the South Sudanese refugees in Sudan,
saying "the biggest problem facing us is relating to registration of
the South Sudanese refugees and giving them the refugee cards."
"A joint committee has been formed, where a tripartite agreement
will be signed between the Sudanese commission for refugees, the
Sudanese Interior Ministry and the UNHCR to reach consensus on a
mechanism that enables us make the correct registration of South
Sudan refugees," noted Al-Jizouli.
Sudan is generally hosting about two million refugees from
Ethiopia, Eritrea, Chad, Somalia, Central Africa Republic, South
Sudan, Yemen and Syria.
"We have three groups of refugees, the first group is present in
official camps, the second inside towns and the third is a group of
youths, the majority of them from Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia, and
use Sudan as a crossing for immigration to Europe," he said.
"This third group is what really bothering us because it falls as
prey to gangs of human trafficking and organizers of illegal
immigration to European countries and Israel," noted Al-Jizouli.
The Sudanese refugee commissioner, meanwhile, explained that the
number of the Syrian refugees in Sudan amounted to 110,000.
"We do not regard the Syrians as refugees due to Presidential
directives to regard them as brothers and not refugees, where they
have privileges as they are permitted to enter Sudan without visa,"
In the meantime, United Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan (OCHA) said in its most recent
bulletin that over 65 percent of the South Sudanese refugees who
arrived in Sudan are children, with many of them arriving with
critical levels of malnutrition.
The UNHCR and partners anticipated the continued arrival of South
Sudanese refugees into Sudan throughout 2017, "given the situation
in South Sudan marked by localized fighting and critical levels of
food insecurity in areas close to the Sudanese border."
The violent fighting which erupted in South Sudan in July last
year following the collapse of the peace deal between the government
and opposition forces caused more than 760,000 refugees to flee the
country, with an average of 63,000 people monthly during the second
half of the year.
In 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.
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 hopes for strong Relations with both U.S. and U.N.