Humanitarian response needed as massive influx of South Sudanese refugees to Uganda continues

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Dzazipi Reception Centre, Adjumani, Uganda January 9th, 2014
by Mai Gad and Agnete Rishøj, DanChurchAid/Lutheran World Federation

 

Within only three days the number of refugees entering Adjumani in Uganda from South Sudan has doubled, bringing the figure up to 24,105 refugees. The high refugee influx puts significant pressure on the camps in Uganda and calls for a greater humanitarian response. So far LWF Uganda has supported initiatives in the camps by providing refugees with soap and utensils.

 

 

“Water is a big problem here. I have not showered for over seven days - just look at my feet,” says 61 year old Tabisha Nyabol, while pointing to her feet. Tabisha arrived in the camp on January 1st.

“We have not yet been registered anywhere, we are so many people,” Tabisha says lifting up her hands in despair. She is seated with her grandchildren under the shade from a couple of blankets.

Tabisha is among the thousands of refugees who escaped the war in South Sudan and arrived in northern Uganda, to the Dzaipi Reception Centre in Adjumani District. “When I heard the gunshots from my home in Bor [in Jonglei state, South Sudan], I was sleeping with my grandchildren, and we started running. My son was killed. He did not know I had gone and tried to run back to save me,” Tabisha says.

“I have not only lost my son, but I also lost everything at home… the rebels took my 30 cows and 10 goats,” Tabisha says. Tabisha, who spent more than two days on foot and several days by boat and truck escaping the war with her grandchildren, did not manage to carry along any of her belongings with her.

The most recent unfolding crisis in South Sudan started in Juba on the 15th of December 2013 as a result of tensions between the South Sudanese ruling party Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and rival fractions (reportedly loyal to former Vice President, Riek Machar). In July 2013, President Salva Kiir reorganised his entire cabinet, including the dismissal of his Vice President, Riek Machar, and this is said to be the main cause of the fighting.

The crisis is now affecting hundreds of thousands of people and has forced many to flee to neighbouring countries such as Uganda. In Adjumani the figure stands at 21,659 registered refugees, but the crowd of unregistered people people settled outside the Reception Centre, which is currently set up in a local primary school, is indicative of a much higher number.

“There are so many areas of intervention that we need support in. The Dzaipi Reception Centre is overcrowded and we have given ourselves a week to make sure it is cleared and people are resettled in permanent settlements. The biggest problems are water, hygiene, sanitation and food,” says Titus Jogo, Emergency Coordinator from the Uganda Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

ACT Member LWF Uganda was among the first to arrive at Dzaipi Reception Centre and has supported the refugees with basic needs: “We have so far brought 7 tons of laundry soap, 2,000 cups and 2,000 plates as a start, but we are waiting for UNHCR and OPM to ensure coordination in the distribution,” says Eugen Emuron, Emergency Coordinator from LWF.

ACT member DanChurchAid (DCA) has also supported LWF with a Communication Officer and a Communication and Fundraising staff from DCA South Sudan office to assess the situation.

“Right now the number of refugees is high, and there are many new arrivals every day. The biggest challenge is shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene,” says Cathy Mavenjina, Senior Community Service Assistant of United Nations refugee council (UNHCR).

As a response, LWF is planning further support in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and in distributing non-food items such as cooking serving utensils, water containers, soap, and blankets, in addition to providing shelters and offering psycho-social support.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 19 February 2014 08:17 )  

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