US Responds to Refugee Crisis in South Sudan

With now more than 150,000 Sudanese refugees in South Sudan, primarily fleeing from Sudan’s Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states, the United States of America today announced it is providing more than $34 million to support the emergency response to new Sudanese refugees.

In his remarks at DC, Deputy Spokesperson Mark C. Toner said the United States is concerned about the dire situation faced by the growing Sudanese refugee population in South Sudan.

The US government remains deeply committed to meeting the humanitarian needs of the people of South Sudan.

Recruits for the Southern Sudan Police Service (SSPS) perform a training exercise at their academy in Rajaf, South Sudan. The recruits will provide security for Southern Sudan’s upcoming referenda, scheduled for 9 January 2011. UN Photo/Paul Banks

Mr. Toner urges the international community to join United States in its efforts to relieve suffering and assist those affected by the on-going violence.

“The United States and its partners are already responding to this crisis, but the needs are great and in danger of outstripping the humanitarian community’s ability to respond.” -Mr. Toner

He says access to sufficient water for the expanding refugee population in Upper Nile remains a significant issue.

Humanitarian agencies are also struggling to improve and maintain access roads that will allow sufficient assistance to reach the growing refugee settlements and surrounding host communities, he underlined.

The US is concerned that humanitarian agencies are still facing a shortage of the resources required to protect and assist the growing refugee population.

“An even greater emergency could be on the horizon as the rainy season threatens to severely curtail access to refugee-hosting areas.” -Mr. Toner

Recently, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has appealed to the international community for $145 million to help prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

Mr. Toner notes that the United States has already met 23% of this request, but 70% remains unfunded.

The US government calls on all international partners to help us meet UNHCR’s urgent request to help the refugees in South Sudan.

The US government also urges all donors, as well as private companies that may have critically-needed equipment in the refugee-hosting areas of South Sudan, to provide additional support to the humanitarian response.

Earlier this week, with the arrival of estimated 35,000 refugees in Upper Nile State for the past three weeks, the humanitarian situation in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State has worsened.

Reports say most of the refugees came from the Sudanese state of Blue Nile.

According to the Office of the UN Hugh Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the humanitarian agencies have been coping with a sudden increase in refugees arriving from a state in neighbouring Sudan.

South Sudanese security guards protect the dignitaries attending the historic Independence Ceremony of the Republic of South Sudan. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is on the left.UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

UNHCR reports that South Sudan is currently hosting some 150,000 refugees from Sudan, representing a huge logistics challenge for humanitarian aid to be properly delivered.

Late of March this year, military clashes have erupted in the border region of Sudan and South Sudan.

Media reports say South Sudan accused Sudan of sending warplanes to bomb two border areas.

Meanwhile, Sudan accused the southern army of attacking the oil-producing Heglig region wherein parts of which are claimed by both warring nations.

The military clashes prompted Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir to suspend plans to attend a meeting with his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir on 3 April.

On July 2011, South Sudan, Africa’s 54th nation was born. Millions of people celebrated a new national identity and new national promise. For more than two decades, Sudan has been riven by intense fighting over land and resources.

However, the security situation in the disputed area of Abyei remains fragile, with both South Sudan and Sudan failing to withdraw their armed forces as agreed under a demilitarization pact reached in June 2011.

South Sudan became independent from Sudan on 9 July. A referendum on the status of the Abyei area on the border was to have been held in January this year, but never took place amid disagreement on voter eligibility.

Dozens of people have been killed this year as a result of clashes in Abyei and surrounding areas and tens of thousands of have been forced to flee their homes.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.