The number of refugees in South Sudan is projected to cross the 3 million mark by the end of 2018, making the country Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the Rwanda genocide.
This has forced the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, to launch an appeal for a $ 1.5 and $ 1.7 Billion respectively to support refugees fleeing the worsening humanitarian situation in South Sudan and cater for the needs of the refugees in need inside the country for the year 2018.
With the conflict now in its fifth year, nearly 2.5 million South Sudanese have fled to six neighboring countries, including Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.
Conflict and insecurity have now forcibly displaced 1 in 3 of the country’s population, either within South Sudan or across its borders. Inside the country, 7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
According to Filippo Grandi, the human cost of the South Sudan conflict has reached epic proportions.
“If the war doesn’t stop, refugee numbers will rise from 2.5 to three million in 2018. The conflict is purging South Sudan of the people who should be the greatest resource of a young nation. They should be building the country, not fleeing it,” said Grandi.
The UN High Commissioner added that for as long as the people of South Sudan await peace, the world needs to come to their aid.
Uganda, the largest host, with over a million refugees, could end up hosting a further quarter million refugees. Refugee numbers could exceed the one million mark in Sudan.
Nearly 90 percent of the forcibly displaced are women and children, and nearly 65 percent are under 18. Women have reported rape and other forms of violence, the killing of their husbands, and the abduction of children during their flight.
Despite this, funding for the South Sudan refugee crisis remains dismally low, with only 33 percent of the required funds received in 2017.
Humanitarian needs in South Sudan continue to escalate at an alarming rate. Nearly 7 million people, including two million, internally displaced, remain in need of urgent assistance and protection across the country.
Many are at risk of disease malnutrition. Many children are unable to attend school or receive adequate medical care, and are often without shelter.
The humanitarian response plan for 2017 was 73 percent funded, allowing the UN and its partners to reach 5.4 million people.
“The Conflict in South Sudan has taken a brutal and deadly toll. Many millions have fled in fear for their lives. They now require our support,” said Mark Lowcock, while visiting Kakuma, Kenya, together with the High Commissioner.
Pointing to the farsighted approach taken by the Kenyan authorities in support of the refugees, he added that it was in the interest of everyone to continue to provide generous and continuous support to people affected by the crisis inside and outside the country.