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Posted on Tuesday, 16 August 2016 11:50

UNHCR lacks funds to tackle South Sudan refugee overcrowding

By Godfrey Olukya

File photo©Rebecca Blackwell/AP/SIPAThe United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has bemoaned the lack of funds to manage the ever increasing numbers of South Sudan refugees to neighbouring countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a statement on Tuesday, UNHCR said the neighbouring countries are straining under the weight of large numbers of displaced people and critically underfunded operations.

UNHCR is appealing to the international community to support countries of asylum to protect and assist South Sudanese refugees

"UNHCR is extremely worried that even as the refugee population grows, funds to meet basic needs are becoming exhausted," the commission's communications officer in Uganda, Charlie Yaxley, said.

Refugees from South Sudan now stand at 930,000.

Yaxley said the outbreak of violence in Juba in July appears to have tipped the scales against an imminent political solution to the South Sudan conflict.

"There are numerous reports of sporadic armed clashes, human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence by armed groups, and worsening food insecurity – inflicting immense suffering," he said.

Yaxley said further compounding the situation is a deteriorating economy, which has seen inflation rise to an unprecedented 600 per cent over the past year.

"This is the situation as the anniversary of the August 2015 peace agreement approaches. Some 200,000 individuals have been fleeing new violence in previously stable areas such as Greater Equatoria and Greater Bahr-el-Ghazal," he said

Uganda and Sudan have so far received an estimated 110,000 and 100,000 new arrivals, respectively. The two countries alone are hosting more than 90 per cent of the new arrivals in the region this year.

Uganda has opened a new settlement in the north-west of the country at Yumbe, with capacity to host more than 100,000 individuals.

But UNHCR says funds are urgently needed to speed the relocation of more than 45,000 refugees out of congested reception and transit centres.

The agency says it has suspended many of its activities in South Sudan and the six countries of asylum in favour of providing critical life-saving support to new refugee arrivals.

"UNHCR is appealing to the international community to support countries of asylum to protect and assist South Sudanese refugees. Continuing funding shortages will further disadvantage women, children and men who need urgent sustained help to overcome the trauma of forced displacement and get on the path to recovery, self-reliance and human dignity," Yaxley said.



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