June 3, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The United Nations has welcomed a commitment by Sudan to maintain an open border policy for South Sudanese fleeing violence and insecurity in their homeland.
- South Sudanese refugees cook on an open fire at a camp run by the Sudanese Red Crescent Society in Sudan’s White Nile state on 27 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Ashraf Shazly)
The Sudanese government recently reaffirmed its commitment at a humanitarian conference for South Sudan in Oslo on 20 May.
“We commend and appreciate that Sudan has granted unrestricted access to its territory to more than 85,000 South Sudanese since the outbreak of violence in South Sudan on 15 December 2013,” UN resident and humanitarian coordinator Ali Al-Za’tari and UNHCR representative in Sudan Mohammed Adar said in a statement on Tuesday.
The UN has also welcomed a decision by Sudanese authorities to ensure the relocation of over 30,000 South Sudanese refugees from their location in “Kilo 10” in White Nile state where they are at risk of floods once he rainy season starts in the coming weeks.
Both Za’tari and Adar said the current location of the refugees posed “grave humanitarian consequences” due to poor health and sanitation conditions and the threat of water borne diseases.
They said the group’s relocation would help avert a potential humanitarian crisis and ensure assistance reached those in need.
Za’tari and Adar said the UN also reiterated its calls for the Sudanese government to allow humanitarian workers free and unhindered access to refugees in White Nile and Blue Nile states.
“UN agencies and humanitarian partners face serious bureaucratic challenges that constrain their ability to ensure the legitimate humanitarian needs of affected people are met,” they said.
“South Sudanese refugees are already extremely vulnerable and should not be exposed to more vulnerability,” the statement adds.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates that some 150 refugees arrive on daily basis to White Nile state from South Sudan’s neighbouring Upper Nile state.
However, humanitarian efforts have so far been hampered by the Sudanese government’s refusal to recognise Southerners entering its territory as refugees, saying they are free to reside and work where they want.
It’s estimated Sudan will need $48 million to cope with the influx of new arrivals.
However, the UNHCR says humanitarian access cannot be secured unless the new arrivals are granted refugee status.
More than 1.3 million people have been displaced in South Sudan since political tensions turned violent in December, with hundreds of thousands fleeing to neighbouring countries, including Sudan, placing a strain on already fragile resources.
Donors at the Oslo conference pledged $600 million for humanitarian efforts in South Sudan after the UN warned it was the “last chance” to avert a looming famine in the country.