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South Sudan: Continued Humanitarian Assistance Needed

Washington D.C. -- Refugees International (RI) is calling on the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to prioritize the assistance and reintegration of its returning citizens, and to prevent further displacement within its own borders. These are two of the recommendations made in South Sudan: Displacement Plagues World’s Newest Nation, an RI report released today. The report also urges the United Nations, the United States, and other donors to provide humanitarian aid, logistical assistance, and conflict-prevention strategies that will keep the country’s displacement crises from spiraling out of control.

“Now that South Sudan is independent, there is a natural desire to focus on development and private investment,” said RI Senior Advocate Peter Orr, who led RI’s mission to South Sudan this fall. “While that is surely needed, we must not lose sight of the hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese who are recently displaced and need humanitarian assistance.”

During a recent visit to South Sudan’s border regions, RI found that aid agencies are struggling just to access many of the country’s refugees and internally-displaced persons. Even those camps that are served by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP) lack supplies, leaving many displaced families without food or shelter. The country’s own relief and rehabilitation agency is clearly overwhelmed by the level of demand, and violence along the border with Sudan threaten to make the situation even worse. RI is pressing South Sudan and donor agencies to dramatically scale up assistance, and to move vulnerable refugees away from border areas and out of harm’s way.

South Sudan’s many internal conflicts have also forced more than 330,000 civilians from their homes in 2011 alone. Fueled by armed dissidents and traditional cattle raiding, these clashes have so far resisted attempts at mediation. If left unresolved, this violence will derail the work of development and further swell the ranks of South Sudan’s displaced.

“New conflict-mitigation strategies are sorely needed in South Sudan – internally, as well as between South Sudan and its northern neighbor. And this is an area where positive engagement by the U.S., UN, and other donors could make a difference,” Mr. Orr said. “There is clearly a lot of goodwill toward South Sudan among the international community – and we welcome that. But that goodwill must also facilitate serious discussions about the country’s immediate needs: humanitarian aid for the displaced, logistical assistance, and conflict resolution.”

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Refugees International is a Washington DC-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises and receives no government or UN funding. For more information, please go to www.refugeesinternational.org.

Contact:
Dara McLeod +1 240 486 3011, [email protected]