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UNHCR seeking $145 million in urgent funds for Sudanese exodus

© UNHCR/V.Tan. Young refugees from Sudan's Blue Nile state collect water to wash with at Doro camp in South Sudan.

The UN refugee agency is seeking $145 million in additional funds to help refugees fleeing fighting in Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states into Ethiopia and South Sudan. The amount is meant to cover the needs of up to 185,000 Sudanese refugees in the two countries.

Since June 2011, fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states has driven over 130,000 Sudanese refugees into Ethiopia and South Sudan. UNHCR anticipates continuing arrivals over the next months with clashes continuing and humanitarian conditions deteriorating in the conflict zones. 

One of the most significant recent attacks occurred on 23 January, when an aerial bombing at Elfoj refugee transit site in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state left 14 people missing and one Sudanese refugee boy injured. 

The incident was one of a series of attacks on refugees in the border areas. Last November, New Gufa, an entry point for refugees in Maban County, Upper Nile state was bombed over several days. Yida refugee settlement, in Unity state near the border with Sudan’s South Kordofan state, has also been hit by air raids in recent months.

Already more than 30,000 Sudanese refugees have been registered in Ethiopia and South Sudan so far this year, a pace of arrival not foreseen during the regular 2012 planning cycle. 

Many of the new arrivals are in remote border areas that are close to the fighting. In South Sudan, Elfoj in Upper Nile state and Yida refugee settlement in Unity state have both seen air raids. UNHCR has relocated some 20,000 refugees from these unsafe border sites.

© UNHCR/C.Mballa

Sudanese refugees at a relocation site in South Sudan's Unity State

In Ethiopia’s Assosa region, the pace of relocation from border areas has also picked up in recent weeks as a result of fighting in Blue Nile and the end of the harvest season for refugee farmers living near the border. The two existing camps have reached full capacity and new arrivals are being sheltered at a transit centre until a third camp can be built.

In addition to urgent relocation from volatile border areas, UNHCR’s emergency response includes the provision of basic relief items and services, registration and child protection. In December, the agency mounted a massive airlift to bring in supplies - tents, plastic sheets, jerry cans, kitchen sets - to the refugees in South Sudan. 

UNHCR will also use the funds to build and service additional refugee settlements, improve road access and preposition relief supplies ahead of the rainy season starting in April. 

The $145 million UNHCR is urgently seeking for this supplementary appeal is in addition to its regular 2012 budget of $269.1 million for programmes in Ethiopia and South Sudan. UNHCR is also appealing directly to members of the pubic for donations via http://donate.unhcr.org/sudan-uk

Ethiopia: Arriving in Assosa:

Zeneib was living in her husband's village in Sudan's Blue Nile statewhen it was attacked. She lost three brothers and then endured tremendous hardship on the journey to Ethiopia with her children.

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South Sudan: My Visit:

Blue Nile and Upper Nile states have seen tens of thousands of people forced from their homes by aerial bombing in recent weeks. Melissa Fleming, Director of Communications for UNHCR, records her impressions of a visit there.