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South Sudan refugee crisis soars US slashes aid

By Gloria Nakajubi

Added 21st March 2017 03:25 PM

According to the UN, there is already a funding gap with the agency operating at just 8% of the required $781.8m

South Sudan refugee crisis soars US slashes aid

According to the UN, there is already a funding gap with the agency operating at just 8% of the required $781.8m

A boy eats out of a ladle at his home in Ngop in South Sudan's Unity State. AFP Photo

South Sudan refugee crisis is now the world's fastest growing according to a statement released last week by the United Nations High Commission for refugees.

This, however, comes at a time when the United States in its draft budget has proposed funding cuts to the UN and related agencies. 

"I propose to reduce funding to the UN and affiliated agencies, including UN peacekeeping and other international organisations, by setting the expectation that these organisations rein on costs and that the funding burden be shared more fairly among members. The amount the US would contribute to the UN budget would be reduced, and we would not contribute more than 25% of UN peacekeeping costs," reads the budget statement. 

President Donald Trump's 2018 budget could affect the already cash strapped UN peace keeping interventions in South Sudan whose impact is already being felt in the region with the refugee influx.

"Eight months after fresh violence erupted in South Sudan, UNHC a famine produced by the vicious combination of fighting and drought is now driving the world's fastest growing refugee crisis" reads the UN statement. 

Total displacement from South Sudan into the surrounding region according to the UN is currently at 1.6m people. These are concentrated in the neighbouring countries of Sudan, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Uganda-one with the highest number. 

"The rate of new displacement is alarming, representing an impossible burden on a region that is significantly poorer and which is fast running short of resources to cope." UN says.

From a daily arrival of about 2000 people, the number is said to have surged to 2800 currently with peak arrivals of more than 5000 in a single day. 

"A result of the rapid influx is that transit facilities in northern Uganda set up to deal with the newly arriving refugees from South Sudan are becoming overwhelmed. Recent rains in the area have not helped matters, and are adding to the misery." UN says.

According to the UN, there is already a funding gap with the agency operating at just 8% of the required $781.8m funding for South Sudanese refugees in the region.  UNHCR's own funding appeal for Uganda is short by more than a quarter of a billion dollars ($267m).

The US as of 2016 was top on the list of UNHCR government donors bringing in about $1.5b.

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