JUBA, South Sudan- Violence in East Africa is nothing new and has taken a serious toll on the region in recent years. The United Nations is hoping to alleviate the situation for the many displaced by the violence in South Sudan. According to one U.N. spokesperson, Kenya has been receiving the most refugees: “400 persons arrive daily either on foot, by hired trucks and buses, carrying their belongings.” Given that Kenya has its own problems economically, the U.N. is stepping up its efforts to monitor and administer to refugees there.
Violence broke out once more in the Sudan region in December of 2013, after President Salva Kiir levied accusations of a coup against his former vice president, Riek Machar. In this new democratic state, the violence spread quickly from the capital of Juba, where fighting began. While a cease-fire was signed between the warring factions in January, the fighting continues and the bordering nations are forced to accommodate refugees fleeing the war.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have recorded over 27,000 refugees passing through Nadapal, the main way-station on the Kenya-South Sudan border. The refugee camps at Nadapal and nearby Kakuma have a combined population well over 150,000 people. This sort of influx in such a short period of time has left Kenya in need of help to deal with the situation.
The U.N. Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) pledged $4.6 million to settle the needs of the refugees in the region. Those funds have been used to supply the camps with the goods necessary for everyday life. More help will be needed as the war expands.
Refugee camps have sprung up within South Sudan itself. Those camps are pressed with conserving supplies in an active war zone, no easy feat. Tensions have arisen as the need for resources has become more dire with the growing conflict. One area of South Sudan, Maban County, has demanded that the camps there be disbanded within the next two weeks. There are 60,000 refugees currently residing in camps from that county, potentially leaving a much larger burden on camps in Kenya and other border nations in the coming weeks.
Even more refugees have been forced to turn to Ethiopia, where recent reports have 1,000 refugees arriving daily. Two camps there have a combined population of 50,000 people, with little more room for any incoming Sudanese refugees. The United Nations is doing what it can to support the malnourished women and children coming in, with a spokesman from the UNHCR said, “With WFP and UNICEF, we have established feeding programs to support their recovery.”
Like the crises in Syria and the Central African Republic, the war in South Sudan has been getting little international attention of late. That needs to change though, as people are starving and dying in that region of the world. Organizations like The Borgen Project are committed to helping those that are in need and encouraging the United States to do more to help those in need. Hopefully, the Western countries will take a stand to end the fighting in this part of the world soon.
– Eric Gustafsson