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30k+South Sudanese refugees reach Sudan in first two months of 2017

February 27 - 2017 JUBA / KHARTOUM
In Alagaya refugee camp, a group of refugees from South Sudan queue to have their ration cards verified by the Sudanese Red Crescent Society staff (WFP)
In Alagaya refugee camp, a group of refugees from South Sudan queue to have their ration cards verified by the Sudanese Red Crescent Society staff (WFP)

Half of the expected number of refugees from South Sudan for 2017 have already arrived in the first two months of the year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reported. More than 31,000 South Sudanese have fled the country because of starvation and unrest.

The biggest indication of a food crisis in the country is the famine in parts of Unity state. The famine was officially announced by the Government of South Sudan and the United Nations on the 20th of this month.

Initial estimates show that over 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 the UNHCR and aid agencies are trying to address, a press statement by the refugee commission reads today.

“We are extremely concerned at people’s condition when they arrive, especially children who are suffering the most,” stated UNHCR’s Representative, Noriko Yoshida.

Sudanese welcome

At the entry points in Sudan, new refugees are transported to sites where they can receive food, access to water, and shelter. They are provided with kitchen sets and cooking equipment to meet their basic needs, the statement adds.

Yoshida: “What I witness in Sudan is a very generous welcome by local people for South Sudanese refugees. They have shared everything they have, even when they have little to offer.” She commended Sudan’s authorities for being quick to meet the needs of people arriving, and ensuring there is access to Sudan’s territory.

Political support

The Sudanese National Umma Party has asked Sudanese people in the areas that border South Sudan to receive South Sudanese refugees fleeing the starvation that has hit parts of the young nation.

Speaking to Radio Dabanga, the deputy head of the Umma Party Fadlullah Burma Nasser said it is “imperative to provide help” to South Sudan, even “before the international organisations and the other neighbouring countries”. “We owe it by virtue of ethnic, historical and economic ties and the relationship of the neighbourhood.”

The initiative of Sudanese civil society organisations has appealed to charitable and voluntary organisations in Sudan, recognised by the state, to provide aid to South Sudan. Hamid Ali Nur, the Secretary-General of the initiative, told Radio Dabanga that the initiative will contact international agencies and organisations through letters especially written to attract humanitarian aid.

'Starvation does not essentially come from a lack of food, but from a lack of justice.'

Ali Nur is determined to lead a campaign with other organisations “to provide something tangible to those affected”. He told Radio Dabanga that dealing with the humanitarian situation and disaster knows no boundaries in terms of the work of organisations. “The Sudanese people should be fully made aware of what is happening as a result of starvation.”

UNHCR said since the war erupted nearly 330,000 South Sudanese refugees have arrived in Sudan fleeing war and food insecurity in their country.

Map of famine in South Sudan

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