Edited News | UNHCR
Sudan displacement higher than projected, humanitarian access thwarted
Humanitarian needs have soared among people displaced by the fighting in Sudan, with refugee numbers on track to surpass projections and aid access still extremely uncertain, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.
“We've already seen over 560,000 people crossing into neighbouring countries; we've seen nearly two million people displaced internally in the country,” said Raouf Mazou, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, after returning from a mission to Sudan.
Since conflict erupted there on 15 April when rival militaries clashed, more than 560,000 people have reached neighbouring countries – with Egypt receiving the highest number, followed by Chad, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic.
One million marker passed
Based on the continuing violence, UNHCR now expects that its previous estimate of one million refugees will be surpassed.
In response to the escalating crisis, UNHCR and other UN agencies, humanitarian partners and host communities have increased efforts to provide emergency shelter, clean water, health care services, psychosocial support and other vital assistance to help displaced populations inside and outside Sudan.
Host communities who have not been affected by the conflict until now are also “seeing the consequences”, Mr. Mazou said. “All are in need of protection and assistance…What is also quite striking and which needs to be underlined is how welcoming the host populations are.”
West Darfur horror
Although the violence has developed across multiple fronts, UNHCR has expressed particular concern about West Darfur. Aid access is “limited”, amid reports of “wanton killings” by “Arab” militia that have been condemned by the UN human rights office (OHCHR).
According to UNHCR, 170,000 people have already crossed into Chad, which borders West Darfur. Many, including women and children, have arrived needing treatment for their injuries.
The rainy season has also thwarted aid workers from reaching those crossing the border and transporting them to refugee camps, the UN agency said.
South Sudan returnees
In South Sudan, sparse infrastructure and security concerns represent significant challenges preventing new arrivals from moving on. Much of the assistance they need will have to be airlifted, which is both costly and complex.
In the meantime, UNHCR teams are registering new arrivals, providing them with emergency relief and helping them to reach different locations as quickly as possible.
“This is a country which has received over 120,000 people,” Mr. Mazou said. “It's largely South Sudanese who are living in Sudan, who are going back to their country…They are part of the 800,000 South Sudanese refugees who were in Sudan, but they are now going back.”
Support in all its forms
Capacity at border reception and transit facilities in neighbouring countries have been strained by the sheer numbers of people arriving, leading to overcrowding and further stretching of already limited resources. Those fleeing Sudan arrive exhausted after days or sometimes weeks on the road, shocked by the violence they have witnessed and in need of food, medical care and relief items.
During a donor conference for Sudan in Geneva on 19 June, $1.52 billion in pledges were received against an appeal for $3 billion. The co-organisers were the UN, the European Union and the African Union, as well as Germany, Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
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