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UN agency seeks funds for ‘critical’ refugee situation in South Sudan

22 June 2012 – The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is urgently appealing for more funding to scale up its assistance to refugees in South Sudan, which it described the situation there as among the “most critical” it now faces.

There are currently some 162,500 people who have fled conflict and related food shortages in Sudan and have taken refuge in neighbouring South Sudan. Another 36,500 have fled to Ethiopia.

A sharp surge in refugee numbers in recent weeks in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state has seen an average of 1,000 new arrivals every day, according to the agency.

Funding needs for the relief operation in South Sudan now exceed $219 million, for which UNHCR has so far received just $45.9 million, or less than 21 per cent of what is required.

“The situation for refugees in South Sudan is among the most critical UNHCR now faces anywhere,” spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a news conference in Geneva today, adding that the contributions the agency has received so far for South Sudan “have been exhausted.”

Mr. Edwards said many of the new arrivals were in a desperate state with large numbers of children in urgent need of assistance to combat malnourishment. “We are very concerned about the growing mortality rates in the refugee camps,” he said.

“Water shortages present a life-threatening risk, particularly for an already weakened population,” he added. The agency is establishing a baseline survey to gain a better picture of the situation.

UNHCR is currently planning for a refugee population in South Sudan of up to 235,000 people. It is not expecting a further dramatic increase in arrivals in Ethiopia and funding needs there remain unchanged.

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