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32,000 South Sudanese fled to Sudan in 2017: UNHCR

February 27 - 2017 JUBA
South Sudanese refugees in East Darfur (Hamid Abdulsalam/Unamid)
South Sudanese refugees in East Darfur (Hamid Abdulsalam/Unamid)

Approximately 32,000 South Sudanese have entered Sudan since the start of the year, with tens of thousands more expected to arrive fleeing a famine in their country, the UN refugee agency said on Sunday.

Last Monday, South Sudan declared famine in some regions, saying 100,000 people faced starvation and another million were on the brink of famine.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said it was initially expecting up to 60,000 South Sudanese to arrive in Sudan in the whole of 2017, but “the level of new arrivals has thus far surpassed initial expectations”.

“So far, nearly 32,000 refugees are estimated to have arrived in Sudan in 2017,” UNHCR said in a report released on Sunday.

“The food security situation is expected to deteriorate further in coming months” in South Sudan given that a famine has been declared in parts of the country's Unity State, it said.

UNHCR said refugees have reported walking for five to seven days to reach Sudan's border state like White Nile, and that 90 percent of the new arrivals there are women and children.

“Many arrive exhausted and in poor health, often with critical levels of malnutrition,” it said.

UNHCR anticipates a continuous influx of South Sudanese refugees throughout 2017, but was concerned over the drop in funding to meet their needs.

The agency and partners have appealed for $ 166.65 million to meet the needs of South Sudanese refugees in Sudan, it said.

“So far, inter-agency partners have raised approximately five percent of funds needed.”

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

'Man-made famine'

The latest government and Famine Early Warning Systems figures predict that 4.9 million people – more than 40 percent of South Sudan's population – will be in a food crisis across the country, many of them close to famine level, between now and April. That figure is expected to jump to 5.5 million people at the height of the lean season in July.

“The main tragedy of the report that has been launched today [...] is that the problem is man-made,” said Eugene Owusu, the United Nation's Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, last week. “The underlining drivers have been there for some time and we have all known that we have a major food crisis.”

The international children's charity Save the Children warned that more than one million children risk starvation, as a famine is declared in Unity state.

(Source: Yahoo News)

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