November 26, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – There is a massive influx of South Sudanese refugees into Sudan, with large numbers of them in Sudan’s East Darfur state, since late January 2016.
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said the population in the state increased from 164 individuals in December 2015 to over 54,000 refugees in 30 September.
The South Sudanese arrivals, it added, are highly mobile and spread out across East Darfur, living in areas including the newly established Kario camp, Khor Omer, El Ferdous Raja old camp, Abu Jabra, Adila, and Assalaya.
“These areas are underserved and often difficult to access, making the provision of assistance by humanitarian partners challenging,” the agency said in a recent fact-sheet.
Continuing conflict and food insecurity in South Sudan are two of the main drivers of the displacement, with emergency levels of acute food insecurity and malnutrition in the states of Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Unity and Warrap.
With the continuing insecurity in South Sudan, said UNHCR, a steady influx of refugees into Sudan is expected to continue.
Meanwhile, Sudan has maintained an open border policy, allowing safe and unrestricted access to its territory for those fleeing the conflict in South Sudan, and has ensured their immediate protection and safety within its borders.
The Four Freedoms Agreement, supported by the President of Sudan, allows South Sudanese to move, reside, work and own property in Sudan.
On 1 September, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between UNHCR and Sudan’s Commissioner of Refugees (COR) as a framework on protection and assistance for South Sudanese refugees, which clarifies their status as refugees and COR’s role in coordinating the response on behalf of the government.
UNHCR and partners supported the relocation of South Sudanese refugees living in Khor Omer camp in Ed Daein locality to the new camp in Kario town.
The influx in East Darfur has critically stretched available resources and operational capacity of partners. Additional funds are required in order to meet the needs of the growing refugee population and mobilize a full-scale emergency response across the state, according to UNHCR.
“The influx of South Sudanese refugees that began in late January 2016 continues, driven by deteriorating food security and continuing violence in South Sudan. Between January and September 2016, over 54,000 refugees have arrived in East Darfur,” further stressed the UN agency.
It added, “The majority of them are women and children who have arrived with poor nutritional and health status, with very few opportunities for livelihood and subsistence activities”.