OCHA South Sudan Weekly Humanitarian Bulletin 18-24 June 2012
- Humanitarian partners are finalizing a response plan to prepare for the possible return of people displaced from Abyei, following the withdrawal of non-UN armed forces
- The Government of South Sudan’s new 2012/13 austerity budget heightens humanitarian concerns about rising food insecurity
- Continued influxes of Sudanese refugees and persisting water shortages at refugee sites in Upper Nile and Unity states remain key concerns of the humanitarian community
The humanitarian situation in South Sudan was relatively stable during the week, except for the ongoing refugee influx and continued strains on water resources in refugee settlements in Upper Nile and Unity states. Refugees from Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states continued to arrive in large numbers, with about 170,000 people having arrived by 24 June. Humanitarian partners also continued to assist nearly 20,000 people affected by March-April border fighting; nearly 200,000 affected by inter-communal violence or rebel militia activity; and an estimated 110,000 displaced by conflict in Abyei last year.
New budget tightens austerity measures
The Government of South Sudan’s austerity budget for the 2012/13 fiscal year, which commences on 1 July, reduces expenditures to 6.4 billion South Sudanese pounds for the year, down from over SSP 10 billion in the original 2011-12 budget. The new budget heightens humanitarian concerns that people will be left with less in their pockets to spend on food and basic necessities. Less government funds available for public services suggests there will be an increase in humanitarian needs.
High-level talks resume in Addis Ababa
The UN Security Council welcomed the resumption of talks between Khartoum and Juba on 19 June and the reduction in border violence since April, while also expressing concern about delays in resolving issues between the two sides. Council members also welcomed the withdrawal of unauthorized forces from the contested Abyei area, urging the Government of Sudan to remove its oil police to complete the process.
Humanitarian challenges, needs and response
Tensions linger in Northern Bahr el Ghazal
Tensions continue to simmer in the border areas of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State. Although no fighting was reported since 31 May, troop movements reportedly continued in the border zone. Despite reported heavy militarization on both sides of the border, renewed clashes appeared unlikely because of logistical constraints associated with the rainy season, UN Security reported. The humanitarian response to people displaced continued, although there were no reports of new displacements. An international NGO was affected by attempted forcible recruitment of national staff in Northern Bahr el Ghazal.
Humanitarian partners plan for return of people to Abyei
Humanitarian partners are finalizing a response plan to prepare for the possible return of the people displaced from the contested Abyei area, following the recent withdrawal of most non-UN armed forces. Since the pullout of Sudanese and South Sudanese forces from Abyei, 1,200 residents have reportedly returned, according to the UN peacekeeping mission, UNISFA. The small number of returns is said to be attributable to a lack of resources in Abyei, including schools and health services. Relief organizations estimate that up to 30,000 people could return between June and August. UN agencies have reinforced their presence in Abyei town and scaled up operationally. Tracking and monitoring teams have been deployed to Abyei to ensure any returns are voluntary. Humanitarians will continue to provide assistance to people where they decide to settle.
Rapid inflation affects most vulnerable people
The monthly inflation rate in South Sudan reached nearly 30 per cent between April and May, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The inflation rate is likely to continue rising throughout the lean period for the next three months, when the highest prices are usually registered even in normal conditions. The highest price rises are seen in states bordering Sudan. Sorghum prices have risen 75-260 per cent in different parts of the country since heightened border tensions in March and April, while wheat flour is up from 40 per cent to 230 per cent. Increased numbers of people are likely to require humanitarian assistance as a result, as coping mechanism of households are stretched with people having less purchasing power.
Water drilling continues in Upper Nile State
The number of Sudanese refugees in Upper Nile State exceeded 107,000 over the reporting period. Providing sufficient safe drinking water for the refugees remained the most pressing issue for humanitarian organizations, although the situation has improved following the drilling of six relatively high-yield boreholes at the Yusuf Batil settlement. Another two boreholes are being drilled in order to cut back on water trucking, which delivers about 40,000 litres of water to Yusuf Batil every day. Increased water supply should also help in reducing gender-based violence, which has reportedly been on the increase at water distribution points. Partners are working to strengthen community mechanisms to prevent gender-based violence. At the K-18 transitory site, water sources are quickly running dry, underscoring the need to speed up the relocation of remaining refugees to better served sites.
Efforts are underway to decongest Jammam by relocating at least 10,000 refugees. Several possible sites along the river in Upper Nile, and in Unity State, are being considered. Talks are ongoing with local communities and authorities to receive refugees from Jammam and another possible 20,000 new arrivals.
Some 220 metric tonnes of household aid was airlifted to refugee sites in Upper Nile over the week, targeting 50,000 people. The assistance included 2,000 family tents, 5,000 kitchen sets, 13,000 blankets, 194,000 bars of soap, 12,000 plastic sheets, and 20,000 sleeping mats, jerry cans and mosquito nets.
Partners discuss Yida expansion to accommodate new arrivals
The number of refugees in Unity State from Sudan’s Southern Kordofan reached nearly 62,000 people by 22 June. Discussions were underway among site planners, local authorities and refugees on expanding the Yida refugee site westwards to accommodate the large numbers of new arrivals. There are about 58,000 refugees in Yida at present. Only 2,396 refugees are located at Pariang and 844 at Nyeel, despite efforts to encourage relocation to these more secure sites. Access to refugee sites is increasingly challenging due to rainfall and poor roads in Unity State. Pre-positioning of food and other items continues in order to avert shortages during the rainy season.
Returnee movements slow down
The pace of return of South Sudanese from Sudan was slow during the week, following the completion of recent organized movements and the onset of the rainy season. Just over 500 returnees reached final destinations and a few other movements were in process. Nonetheless, returnees continued to be tracked in Renk in Upper Nile State endecongest transit route to final destinations, with over 800 people reaching the town and over 500 sites in Renk County spontaneously departing between 13 and 19 June. The International Organization for Migration began registering returnees for a barge movement from Renk to Juba, due to carry some 2,500 people. This will help decongest Renk, which currently hosts some 18,000 people in transit. Over 405,000 returnees have arrived in South Sudan since the beginning of the organized returns programme in October 2010.
Onward movement continues from Juba transit site
The National Teacher Training Institute site outside Juba has emptied substantially since the peak of the recent Kosti airlift operation. Just over 2,000 returnees are estimated to remain at the site, with 874 individuals going to Torit, Eastern Equatoria State, on 22 June and 225 to Western Equatoria State on 23 June in IOM-organized onward transport movements. Other returnees moved out of the site spontaneously in smaller groups from the first days of the airlift, while partners constructed additional shelter and latrines.
The majority of those still remaining, however, are not yet willing or able to move onwards. The most common reasons given are the lack of land or community ties in final destinations, and the lack of resources to move. Some people also report that they await their luggage from Kosti. The majority of those remaining cite final destinations in the Greater Equatoria region. Further transport assistance will be provided for the remaining people at the transit site when they are ready to move.
This report was prepared by the OCHA South Sudan office in collaboration with humanitarian partners. If you have inputs for the next edition, or questions/comments on the current issue, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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