March 19, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says 332,000 South Sudanese refugees are currently living in Sudan.
- South Sudanese refugees perform a traditional dance as President Omer Hassan al-Bashir addresses a crowd a rally held in Ed Daein, East Darfur, April 5, 2016. April 5, 2016. (Photo Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)
In its weekly humanitarian bulletin, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said UNHCR figures show the number of South Sudanese refugees in Sudan, since December 2013, surpassed the 300,000 mark.
Nearly 25,000 South Sudanese refugees arrived in Sudan in February, for a total of over 35,000 refugees arriving so far in 2017, it disclosed.
UNHCR said it was expecting up to 60,000 new arrivals in Sudan in 2017, but the rate of new arrivals has surpassed initial expectations.
The majority of the 2016 influx arrived in East Darfur (49%) and White Nile (25%). Over 85,000 refugees crossed into Sudan in the first six months of 2016, with the largest numbers observed from February to April, with another upsurge in July, according to UNHCR.
Over 65 percent of the refugees in Sudan are reportedly children, with many of them arriving with critical levels of malnutrition. UNHCR and partners, however, anticipate the continued arrival of South Sudanese refugees into Sudan throughout 2017, given the situation in South Sudan marked by localised fighting and critical levels of food insecurity in areas close to the Sudanese border.
The planning figure for 2017 is an estimated 60,000 additional refugees, with the corresponding response outlined in the South Sudan Regional Refugee Response Plan for 2017, UNHCR said.
According to OCHA, UNHCR in Sudan is updating its preparedness and contingency plan in consultation with partners to ensure an effective response continues if influxes exceed the planning figure.
In White Nile, the expansion of the Al Waral II, Al Redis II and Um Sangour sites is reportedly underway in anticipation of an increasing influx over the coming months.
On 3 February, OCHA said, clashes close to Sudan forced the evacuation of Al Kuek North border point. Approximately 900 people were transported to safety at the Um Sangour site, OCHA said, while a new entry point has reportedly been established at Um Jelala, about 10 km from the border, where temporary registration of new arrivals was resumed by the Sudan Red Crescent Society (SRCS).
Also, an inter-agency rapid assessment mission was reportedly conducted from 21-27 February to assess the needs of refugees newly arrived to the El Amira reception centre and several settlements near El Leri, a remote area with limited access of humanitarian partners in South Kordofan.
The mission reportedly met with local authorities, line ministries, host communities and refugee community leaders in Dar-Bati, Um Kawaro, and Elgoghb, and learned that the new arrivals are mostly from Upper Nile state in South Sudan, having entered Sudan on foot. Refugees are in urgent need of food, with majority of new arrivals reported to be women, children and elderly persons with Shilluk ethnicity. Some are Dinka who usually move onwards to other areas in Sudan, including Khartoum and White Nile.
An inter-agency mission to Al Lait, North Darfur was reportedly also conducted from 12-16 February to determine the profile of 19,531 refugees who have resided across 10 different locations since May 2016.