UNHCR Geneva pledges to support South Sudan

Kelly T. Clements Deputy High Commissioner for UNHCR with Hussein Mar Nyuot the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management

By Logonyi Denis

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Headquarters in Geneva has pledged commitment to continue supporting refugees living in South Sudan.

Ms Kelly T. Clements Deputy High Commissioner for UNHCR , who arrived in the country from Geneva, said her office was ready to collaborate with the government in order to continue supporting refugees in the country.

“The UNHCR has been a partner to South Sudan for many years and we hope to do so. I thank the government for providing safety and shelter to the refugees who are running persecutions and violence from their homeland,” she said.

The UNHCR Commissioner praised the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) for passing the 1951 Refugee Convention which was to be ratified by President Salva Kiir into law.

However, Ms Clement said it was in their interest that peace should be restored in the country give chance to South Sudanese refugees to return home.

Ms Kelly had a meeting with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management as she prepares to visit refugee settlement camps across the country.

Currently, there are over 3000 refugees living in South Sudan mostly from Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.

Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Hussein Mat Nyot welcomed the UNHCR Deputy Commissioner who was in the country to know the status of the refugees as well as the Internally Displaced person (IDPs).

He thanked the UNHCR administration for always standing with South Sudan and also to coordinate and cooperate in helping the people in dire need.

Earlier on the eve of World Refugees Day Celebration, Johann Siffonite, the UNHCR Representative in South Sudan told Juba Monitor in an exclusive interview that refugees in South Sudan enjoyed full freedom of movement including access to basic services such as education and health without discrimination.

“We do not expect the refugees to go back home soon because the number of immigrants has been increasing daily.  Our role is to make sure that those refugees are accepted by the host community. If we build schools or health Centres for refugees, we want to make sure that the host community must also benefit so as to promote peace and harmony among themselves,” he said.

However, Mr Siffonite said he cling on to the hope that the refugees will one day and at one time return to their countries of origin but he did not have to anticipate their return. “As they continue to stay around we want to makes sure that their presence in the country does not have a toll on the well-being of the host community.”

He stressed that everyone  was quite aware that the host communities have equally benefited from the presence of refugees due to our balanced services, adding that they did not give the refugees more assistance that the local communities so as not create conflict between the two groups.

“For instance in Maban and Jamp Jong there is very nice hospital, boreholes and schools which have been built by UNHCR and the host community is benefiting from the facilities because of the refugees,” Mr. Siffonite said.

Apart from refugees, UNHCR, in conjunction with other UN agencies and the government of South Sudan, is supporting at least1.8 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of whom 12% of them are in the Protection of Civilian sites (PoCs) while 88% are living outside the PoCs.

According to UNHCR representative, apart from supporting the 3000 refugees, the organisation has reached 88% of the IDPs who are living outside the PoCs though in very remote areas. “We are able to provide protection and food supplies to them,” Mr Siffonite said.


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