UN, Uganda Sound Alarm as South Sudan Refugee Inflow Reaches Breaking-point

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ask Filippo Grandi and Ugandan Prime Minister, pharmacy Ruhakana Rugunda have said the East African nation cannot lonely handle massive refugee influx from South Sudan.

The UNHCR chief that described the influx as Africa’s largest refugee crisis, noted on Thursday that their efforts in Uganda are overstretched as thousands of people from South Sudan, desperate for safety and assistance, pour into Uganda that is already hosting more than 800,000 people.

More than 70 per cent of the number in Uganda (about 572,000) arrived since July last year when the unity government collapsed in Juba.  Given the present rate of arrivals, the figure could surpass one million by mid-2017 according to the UNHCR.

“We are at a breaking point. The lack of international attention to the suffering of the South Sudanese people is failing some of the most vulnerable people in the world when they most desperately need our help,” Mr. Grandi said.

He noted that Uganda’s approach to dealing with refugees has long been among the “most progressive” anywhere on the African continent but the sheer scale of the influx has placed enormous strain its services and infrastructure.

Meanwhile Rugunda stated that Uganda is open to refugees from neighboring countries.

“Uganda has continued to maintain open borders. We continue to welcome our neighbors in their time of need but we urgently need the international community to assist as the situation is becoming increasingly critical,” he said

UNHCR chief stressed that chronic and severe underfunding has reached the point where critical programmes they operate are at the risk of being “dangerously compromised”.

Transit and reception facilities are rapidly becoming overwhelmed and there are significant challenges in providing adequate food rations, health and educational services, as well as sufficient clean water according to Mr. Grandi.

The already dire situation has been further complicated by the onset of heavy rains.

The UN agency is appealing for more than $250 million to support South Sudanese refugees in Uganda this year.



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