The UN refugee agency and World Food Programme (WFP) have appealed to the World Bank for $371 million (Shs939 billion) to support thousands of South Sudanese refugees thronging neighbouring countries.
The United Nations High Commission for refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson, Mr Adrian Edwards, said Tuesday the refugees have been fleeing notably to Uganda and Ethiopia at a rate of 2,000 per day but resources to help them are wearing out.
“Given these trends, the regional emergency response announced yesterday it will focus on protection activities and other life-saving needs. These include emergency food, water, sanitation and health,” Mr Edwards said in statement from his office in Geneva, Switzerland.
He said, many of the refugees have been arriving exhausted, malnourished and in poor health, having escaped from areas in crisis- ladden South Sudan experiencing severe food shortages.
Majority are women, children and elderly people.
UN says some 708,900 people have been displaced inside South Sudan and 3.7 million are at high risk of food insecurity, the potential for further cross-border movement is high.
The UNHCR external relations officer in Uganda, Ms Karen Ringuette, said currently overall refugee population exceeds 328,900 as at end of February.
“While many of the recent arrivals are from South Sudan, Uganda is still host to almost 175,500 Congolese refugees – including some of the 66,000 who have fled to Bundibugyo since July to escape fighting in eastern DRC. The ones affected by the boat tragedy were from this group,” she said.
The appeal is for emergency address of the situation in neighbouring countries while UNHCR’s work within S. Sudan covering 235,000 internally displaced persons is covered by separate budgets.
Number to rise
Since fighting erupted in mid-December more than 204,000 people have fled to Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya but with the continuing insecurity and growing food shortages inside South Sudan, UNHCR expects the number of refugees across the region to reach 340,000 by the end of the year.