12 June 2014 - More than 350,000 refugees from the fighting in South Sudan are expected to flee across the border into Ethiopia in coming months, warns Christian Aid.
Six camps in Gambella region, the main Ethiopian entry point, are already severely over stretched with nearly 140,000 refugees registered, and more than 1,000 new arrivals a day.
With only 41 per cent of the funds for the international crisis response plan for South Sudan in place at present, and the regional refugee response plan only 22.4 per cent funded, fears are mounting over food security, the spread of disease and protection of civilians.
Inside South Sudan more than a million people have been displaced since fighting started four months ago between government and opposition forces, and an estimated four million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance.
Christian Aid is working in the opposition-held Pagak area and government-held Nasir, with support from the START fund, a multi-agency resource, backed by the UK’s Department for International Development, which provides fast and direct funding for ‘under the radar’ crises.
Christian Aid is also working across the border in Gambella drilling bore holes for emergency water provision and distributing jerry cans and cleaning materials to help prevent the spread of disease.
‘Most of the refugees arriving are women, children and elderly people, because many men have either gone to fight or have been killed,’ said Tamrat Terefe, Christian Aid, Ethiopia.
‘We continue to work with local partners in very difficult circumstances but the number of refugees is growing on a daily basis and, with drought predicted in some parts of Ethiopia by the end of the year, it is not clear how sustainable the current situation is.’
Natalia Chan, Christian Aid’s senior advocacy and policy officer for East Africa, added: ‘We welcome the communique released this week which details the most recent agreement between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, providing a basis for negotiating a transitional government of national unity in an inclusive process.
‘The two leaders recommitted themselves to the roadmap agreement signed on 9 May, which crucially included a recommitment to the Cessation of Hostilities agreement, and free and unhindered military access.’
But with the growing level of need, Christian Aid is urging the international community to act fast to provide the necessary funding to supply food and non-food items. The peace process must also be fast tracked to find a permanent solution to the conflict.
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Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change www.christianaid.org.uk/images/partnership-for-change-summary.pdf explains how we set about this task.
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