Oxfam responds to today’s announcement that one million South Sudanese refugees have fled to Uganda.
Lydia Zigomo, Oxfam’s Regional Director of the Horn, East and Central Africa, said:
“As long as the senseless, costly and brutal war in South Sudan continues, its people will continue to flee in search of safety, food, water and shelter. More than anything they need peace at home. South Sudan’s neighbours and the international community must honour their commitments to get the warring parties back to the negotiating table. Until then, it will not be safe for South Sudanese refugees to return home, forcing them to depend on aid across the border.
“Uganda’s open-door policy to refugees has provided protection for one million South Sudanese – the third-largest population of refugees in the world. Yet Uganda is seriously under-funded. If international governments do not provide the money urgently needed, Uganda’s refugee response could quickly buckle and fail.”
Sara Cowan, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Campaign Coordinator has just returned to her home in Glasgow after spending two months in Uganda where she witnessed first-hand the impact South Sudan’s brutal war is having on refugee families and on their host communities in Uganda.
Sara said: “It’s hard to describe the impact so many people fleeing across the border is having on Uganda: it’s the equivalent to the entire combined populations of Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee suddenly turning up on your doorstep desperately seeking refuge.
“I heard horrific stories of war tearing communities apart and people who’d been separated from their families during their panicked journey.
“It’s clear the international community can’t leave Uganda to cope with this crisis alone; more funding and solidarity is urgently needed.”
Notes to editors:
The South Sudan refugee response in Uganda and across the region is severely underfunded. In Uganda, of the UN appeal for $673million this year, only 17% has been received so far. At the recent Refugee Solidarity Summit the Government of Uganda appealed for $2billion to meet the humanitarian and development needs of all refugees in the country. Less than a quarter was pledged towards this with just $431.1million committed.
The vast majority of refugees – 86% – are women and children who need specific support to keep them safe from rape, beatings, torture, hunger and abandonment.
Uganda is also a host country for refugees from DRC, Burundi, and CAR.
There are 1.94 million internally displaced people in South Sudan. 1 in 3 people have been forced from their home since December 2013. Almost 6 million people are in need of emergency aid. Oxfam is working from 10 bases across the country to get food, water and hygiene items to people. We have been working in Panyijar County, which is where many people from the famine-affected areas have fled. Oxfam is providing vouchers for canoes so that people sheltering from the conflict on islands in the swamps can get to the help they need. To help prevent diseases like cholera Oxfam is providing
clean water, safe sanitation facilities and essential hygiene items. In South Sudan, Oxfam has provided regular emergency food distributions to over 415,000 people since February.