Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and partners on Thursday appealed for $1.4 billion this year to support more than two million South Sudanese refugees in five African countries and local communities hosting them. 

Since the start of the conflict in South Sudan over 10 years ago, growing humanitarian needs compounded by dire food shortages, continued insecurity, and the impacts of climate change, have kept refugees in exile and prompted new displacement.

Four consecutive years of flooding have also destroyed homes and livelihoods, sparking further cross-border movements. 

Scattered across the region 

South Sudan remains Africa’s largest refugee crisis, UNHCR said.

While the war in neighbouring Sudan has forced nearly 200,000 South Sudanese to relocate to safer areas within the country, and hundreds of thousands of others to return to their homeland prematurely, over two million across the region remain in need of international protection.

The South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan will meet the needs of 2.3 million citizens now living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda.

A similar number of people in local communities in the five countries will benefit from services and support.

“While significant strides and commendable efforts have been made over the last 10 years by partners, this year’s Regional Refugee Response Plan builds on the incremental progress made and demonstrates that if given the resources, humanitarian aid combined with investments in resilience – for both refugees and the host communities that welcomed them – will facilitate longer term solutions,” said Mamadou Dian Balde, UNHCR’s Regional Director for the East and Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region. 

Protection and response 

The regional refugee plan complements a humanitarian appeal launched earlier this year, aimed at reaching 5.9 million people in South Sudan. 

Humanitarian partners will build on gains already made with host Governments and regional bodies to improve the protection environment for refugees and asylum-seekers through enhanced access to asylum and civil documentation.  

The plan also aims to support efficient delivery of humanitarian assistance and protection services, including to prevent and respond to gender-based violence and sexual exploitation. 

Mental health a priority 

The inclusion of refugees and asylum-seekers in national healthcare, education and other systems, as well as initiatives to boost self-reliance through employment opportunities, are at the heart of the plan.  

Priority will also be given to mental health, particularly among young South Sudanese refugees, as many are losing hope for the future due to limited opportunities.  

This year’s plan also includes a new element focused on partnerships and increased financing to enable both displaced people and host communities to become more climate resilient.  

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN News.

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