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Office of the Prime Minister, UN agencies and humanitarian organisations in Uganda issue appeal to end suffering of South Sudanese refugees (15.12.2016)

Adjumani Refugee Camp

Thousands of people continue to flee South Sudan to Uganda every day, 64% of whom are children under 18, leaving behind them tales of horrific violence.

KAMPALA, Uganda, December 15, 2016 – On the third anniversary of the outbreak of violence in South Sudan in December 2013, the Government of Uganda Office of the Prime Minister, six UN agencies and eleven humanitarian organisations in Uganda are appealing to the world to bring an end to the suffering of the South Sudanese people. With 527,472* South Sudanese refugees having fled to Uganda over the last three years, including more than 338,000* since July alone, it is vital that the international community comes together to support humanitarian organisations in delivering life-saving assistance to those who have been forced to flee their homes, and to take urgent action to find a solution to the conflict.

Thousands of people continue to flee South Sudan to Uganda every day, 64% of whom are children under 18, leaving behind them tales of horrific violence. Refugees report that armed groups operating in the Equatoria region are attacking villages, killing civilians, burning down houses, raping women and girls, and kidnapping young men and boys. People are reportedly being prevented from using major access roads out of South Sudan, forcing many to walk through the bush for days, often without access to food and water. New arrivals report that in the weeks and months ahead, they expect thousands more will follow them to Uganda.

New arrivals are provided with shelter, food, water and an environment where they can live in safety however, the humanitarian response to South Sudanese refugees in Uganda continues to face significant challenges due to chronic and severe underfunding. Currently, just 36% of the US$251 million needed for 2016 has been received. This is creating significant gaps in the response which threatens to compromise the abilities of humanitarian organisations to provide life-saving assistance and basic services.

In August, this year, a new settlement was opened in Bidibidi, Yumbe district to accommodate the thousands of new arrivals. In the space of a matter of months, humanitarian organisations have transformed Bidibidi from empty bushland in to one of the largest refugee-hosting areas in the world.

Uganda continues to show outstanding generosity and hospitality towards South Sudanese refugees, at a time when the country is hosting the highest number of refugees in its history and is receiving two additional refugee influxes from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. Uganda has maintained open borders to allow refugees to reach safety and, as part of its settlement approach, provides them with land to build new homes and grow crops. Refugees in Uganda enjoy a range of rights and freedoms that allow them to gain employment, start businesses and make positive economic contributions to their host communities.

Host communities in northern Uganda are to be particularly commended for having donated the land on which settlements hosting South Sudanese refugees are located. In recognition of the solidarity shown by host communities, as a guiding principle, approximately 30% of the humanitarian response directly benefits Ugandans through improvements to local infrastructure.

We are grateful to our donors for their contributions so far but more must be done to end the suffering of the South Sudanese people. We urge the international community, both those already engaged and new partners to the response, to expedite their contributions of funds and expertise to ensure we can meet the needs of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. With political solutions to the crisis in short supply, further efforts are needed to find long-term solutions that will allow these refugees to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.  It remains vital that those with influence over the political leadership in South Sudan use all available channels to encourage the warring factions to come together in dialogue and bring an end to the bloodshed. For the sake of the South Sudanese people, the world cannot afford to fail.

* Figures are based on biometric registrations in the Government’s Refugee Information Management System, and manual emergency registration, headcounts and wrist-banding for the emergency influx of new arrivals. 

Uganda: Statement by Minister of Relief, Distaster Preparedness and Refugees, 13th December, 2016 Following the Verification Process in some of the Refugees Settlements (13.12.2016)

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South Sudan Conflict: Interview with presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny (Youtube-Clip)

UNHCR working with Government of Uganda and emergency response partners to contain cholera outbreak amongst the newly arrived South Sudanese refugees in Adjumani district, Uganda (18.08.2016)

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49 South Sudanese refugees and one Ugandan national have been confirmed to have contracted the disease. 

GENEVA, Switzerland, August 18, 2016 – The Government of Uganda and United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) are implementing containment measures in the recently-opened Pagirinya settlement in Adjumani district following confirmation of an outbreak of cholera.49 South Sudanese refugees and one Ugandan national have been confirmed to have contracted the disease. 44 have been provided with treatment and subsequently discharged from health facilities having fully recovered, while two patients remain in quarantine.

Additional measures are being taken to ensure the outbreak doesn’t spread further. Those who have contracted the disease are having their houses disinfected and their water supply drained while a door to door awareness-raising campaign takes place. The sale of fresh produce at markets and on the road side has been restricted. Other sanitation strengthening activities, such as chlorination of water points, garbage cleaning, strengthening of hand-washing facilities and the distribution of water guards, have been intensified. As a result, the number of new cases continues to be small but health teams continue to pay close attention to individuals displaying any potential symptoms.

Cholera is an acute infectious disease, usually shared through the consumption of contaminated food and water, which can potentially prove fatal. Sufferers endure symptoms that include acute watery diarrhea and vomiting.

The majority of people found to be suffering from the outbreak are located in reception centres in Pagirinya settlement, with smaller numbers found to be suffering in the settlement itself and at Elegu collection point. Pagirinya is currently hosting more than 30,000 South Sudanese refugees, all of whom arrived in the last 6 weeks.

“We have received a large number of young children as refugees over the last month or so, who are particularly vulnerable to this possibly lethal disease,” said acting Representative to Uganda Bornwell Kantande.  “Together with the Ministry of Health and our health partners, we’ve rapidly implemented response measures to contain its spread. We’re continuing to do our best to reduce the number of people living in these reception centres as quickly as possible, not only to reduce the risk of disease outbreaks, but so that these people can begin to rebuild their lives as soon as possible.”

Decongestion of transit and reception centres remain a top priority. Refugees are being relocated to the recently-opened Bidibidi settlement in Yumbe district where, in line with Uganda’s generous settlement approach, they will be provided with plots of land on which to build new homes and to grow agricultural crops.

More than 80,000 South Sudanese refugees have fled to Uganda since the outbreak of violence in Juba on 8 July. Over 85% of the new arrivals are women and children, with children comprising 64 percent of new arrivals. They report that armed groups are attacking villages, killing civilians, sexually assaulting women and girls and forcibly recruiting young men and boys in to their ranks.

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