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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/4/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Needs of South Sudanese refugees are 'huge,' United Nations says

As many as one million people have fled their South Sudanese homeland over the violence now raging there. Even worse, many have fled with as little as the clothes on their backs. It's a humanitarian crisis in the making, according to United Nations officials, who say that the needs of the South Sudanese need to be addressed through funding. 

The world's newest nation has skirted civil war over fighting between South Sudan's army and rebels led by former Vice President Riek Machar, which erupted in mid-December.

The world's newest nation has skirted civil war over fighting between South Sudan's army and rebels led by former Vice President Riek Machar, which erupted in mid-December.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/4/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: South Sudan, United Nations, displacement, funding


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The crucial thing here is funding. These are people who fled with nothing and are living in a very difficult situation," United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees T. Alexander Aleinikoff declared. "We can do our work if we're adequately supplied with resources, but the resource needs are huge."

Less than three weeks after launching an initial $360 million appeal last month, the U.N. asked for additional funding of $99 million for humanitarian crises in South Sudan and Central African Republic. Fifty-nine million dollars of that amount is intended for South Sudan.

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The world's newest nation has skirted civil war over fighting between South Sudan's army and rebels led by former Vice President Riek Machar, which erupted in mid-December. The two sides signed a ceasefire on January 23. Sporadic clashes have continued.

"Even though the shootings have largely stopped you have people who don't feel secure to go back to their homes," Aleinikoff says.

"We work on protection issues, in particular structures for monitoring issues like sexual and gender-based violence. There are special protection needs of children. We are worried about child soldier recruitment," he said.

Some 70,000 to 80,000 displaced people had sought refuge at U.N. bases, such as the U.N. mission in the capital Juba, the U.N. house and at some other sites. 

In response, the U.N. is opening a new facility hosting up to 5,000 people to ease congestion.

"This is near the U.N. house in Juba and there's another piece of land that can be developed across the road that will also be able to take up to 10,000 or 20,000 thousand people. We will put up services until people think it is safe to go home," Aleinikoff said.

Thousands of people have been killed in the worst violence since South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011. At least 3.2 million people in the country, which is more than a quarter of the population, now face starvation. Aid agencies say insecurity is hampering their operations.

Peace talks are scheduled to resume in Addis Ababa in neighboring Ethiopia next week.

"Ultimately the solution here is for negotiations to go forward. There was the cessation of the hostilities signed in Addis Ababa - that process needs to go forward, the confidence-building steps need to be taken so people feel safe to return to their homes," Aleinikoff says.

"There needs to be political process (in place) that will ultimately solve the problems of internal displacement," he added.

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