Ongoing conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile has worsened humanitarian situation in Sudan and South Sudan where 4.7 million people are predicted to be food insecure in the region.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Catherine Wiesner discussed via teleconference in
DC the humanitarian situation in Sudan and South Sudan that has resulted from the ongoing conflict in the two areas along the border between Sudan and South Sudan.
140,000 new refugees have been created by the conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and who have fled from Sudan across the new international border to South Sudan as well as to Ethiopia and a few that have gone as far as Kenya, Ms.
“With this complex situation, it means that humanitarian needs are really expected to continue in both Sudan and South Sudan for some time to come.” -Ms. Wiesner
According to Ms. Wiesner, the fighting that erupted last year within the border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile in Sudan not only threatens the possibility for resumption of direct conflict between the north and the south but also the violence has resulted in significant displacement and humanitarian need.
In addition to those who remain displaced and in need of assistance within South Kordofan and Blue Nile, 140,000 refugees from the two states have fled, she added.
“The arrival of 100,000 of these refugees to South Sudan, as I mentioned, occurs against this complex backdrop of humanitarian needs.” -Ms. Wiesner
Reports say South Sudan is reportedly witnessing today the largest semi-peacetime movement of people since World War II in a country.
South Sudan is also a host to refugees from conflict and other surrounding states from the Democratic Republic of Congo, from the Central African Republic, and even Ethiopia, Ms. Wiesner noted.
She adds that there is chronic and rising food insecurity throughout the country, which exacerbates the situation.
The vast majority of the refugees from the two areas have come from Blue Nile state, and it’s Upper Nile state in South Sudan that hosts the largest concentration of these refugees, Ms. Wiesner said.
The the UN Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration are two key partners of the U.S. Government which eachagency received a significant share of US humanitarian funding.
She reports that recent influx had really stretched the response capacity. She notes that the area where the refugees are arriving is remote, it’s sparsely populated, and much of it rests in a flood zone that becomes inaccessible by road for much of the six-month rainy season.
In December 2011, the number of refugees began to swell from about 25,000 in mid-December to over 80,000 by the end of February.
To address the problem, UNHCR initiated an emergency airlift of tents, plastic sheeting, and other relief supplies from Kenya and Dubai.
“Drilling is ongoing. Locating clean water in sufficient quantities has been one of the major challenges.” -Ms. Wiesner
WFP was able to successfully establish a new pipeline by shipping emergency foodstuff to the port in Djibouti and bringing it in through Ethiopia, so now food supplies have become adequate, Ms. Wiesber noted.
And finally, health actors are bracing for and developing contingency plans against malaria and cholera outbreaks.
“It’s really a complex situation in South Sudan of various humanitarian crises, and Upper Nile is a good example of that.” -Ms. Wiesner
The United States has been deeply engaged in Sudan, having led international efforts to broker the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended decades of civil war between the country’s north and south and as the lead international donor both during and after the war.
In South Sudan, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is helping to strengthen democratic participatory governance, to enhance access to health care, education and clean water, and to improve basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and electricity. U.S. efforts spearheaded by USAID continue to boost agricultural productivity and trade, and help local governments improve their ability to manage resources and meet citizens’ needs. Since the signing of the CPA, USAID has worked closely with the Government of Southern Sudan to provide one million people with access to clean water, to help increase children’s enrollment in schools nearly fourfold, and to establish tools like microfinance institutions to help jumpstart economic opportunities.