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UNHCR, partners appeal for $1.3 billion to support South Sudanese refugees

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) together with 108 humanitarian and development partners are appealing for 1.3 billion U.S dollars to protect and assist 2.2 million South Sudanese refugees in the region this year.

“The funds will go towards supporting South Sudanese refugees and their local host communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda,” Shabia Mantoo, UNHCR told a press briefing in Geneva,” she said.

Mantoo said that the appeal comes amid a worsening economic outlook across the region as the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine have pushed up fuel and food prices and increased unemployment.

“Host countries that have generously welcomed South Sudanese refugees are bearing the strain of the crisis amid staggering levels of underfunding, prolonged drought, and severe food shortages, including food ration cuts for refugees,” she disclosed.

 Mantoo said UNHCR is urging the international community to scale up support for the millions of refugees who are unable to return home as their country continues to face a fragile peace and security environment marked by cycles of sporadic violence, and the impacts of an unfolding climate crisis.

She said that four years of unrelenting floods have inundated two-thirds of the country, damaging tens of thousands of people’s houses, farmland and livestock.

Mantoo said this support will be crucial in meeting refugees’ most immediate needs in host countries, including for shelter, education, and health and food assistance.

“With women and children comprising 80 per cent of all South Sudanese refugees in the region, funding for programs to prevent and respond to gender-based violence need to be prioritized,” she said.

Mantoo said the appeal also aims to provide digital cash assistance, and other resilience-enhancing initiatives such as access to finance and training, to help refugees and local communities generate income, supplement their needs and live in dignity.

The funding will enable host governments to strengthen the asylum space and further protect the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers, as well as boost the prospects for long-term solutions.

“This includes improved registration and documentation and advancing ongoing efforts to include refugees in national social protection systems and enhance their access to basic services, all of which helps to better prepare refugees for eventual return,” Mantoo said.

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