23 May Uganda: Over 900,000 S. Sudanese refugees need aid
May 21, 2017 (KAMPALA) – Thousands of South Sudanese continue to arrive to Uganda every week, bringing the total number of refugees and asylum-seekers to over 900,000.
- Civilians flee UN protection site in Malakal following attacks by the government army and militias on 17-18 February 2016 – (MSF photo)
Uganda now hosts more refugees than any other African country, accepting more refugees than the number who were granted asylum by the whole of Europe in 2016.
While the refugees arriving are in relatively good health, many reportedly tell stories of horrific violence in their place of origin or on their journey, while the scale of the refugee influx has pushed Uganda’s progressive refugee policies to their limits, overwhelming reception conditions and the government’s ability to respond.
“Despite the large-scale humanitarian mobilisation, the emergency response is still far from sufficient, and many people have been left with insufficient water, food and shelter,” said Jean-Luc Anglade, MSF head of mission in Uganda.
“As the flow of refugees shows no sign of abating, a sustained and long-term effort will be needed to assist these people over the next months, if not years,” he added.
In addition to its operations in South Sudan, MSF says it has been responding to the humanitarian crisis in Uganda since July 2016, with medical and water and sanitation activities.
Currently, MSF says it is working in four refugee settlements in the northwest – Bidi Bidi, Imvepi, Palorinya and Rhino – providing inpatient and outpatient medical care, maternity care and nutritional care, and conducting community health surveillance and water and sanitation activities.
The agency said it has also responded to an influx of refugees into Lamwo, on the border with South Sudan, after an attack in Pajok, Eastern Equatoria, but has since handed over these activities to other organisations.
“Access to water is one of the biggest challenges in the refugee settlements and MSF has been scaling up operations in water support,” MSF said in a statement.
In Palorinya, MSF reportedly produces an average of two million litres per day from the River Nile, supporting over 100,000 people. In total, MSF produced a staggering 52 million litres of clean water in Palorinya in April alone.
“There is a never-ending cascade of challenges,” said Casey O’Connor, MSF project coordinator in Palorinya.
In addition to responding to the refugee influx, MSF reportedly runs regular programmes in Uganda providing sexual reproductive health services for adolescents in Kasese, HIV/AIDS care for the fishing communities on lakes George and Edward, and HIV viral load monitoring services in Arua regional hospital.