The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency together with 102 humanitarian and development partners are appealing for Shs 4.3 trillion (US$1.2 billion) to deliver much-needed humanitarian assistance and protection to 2.3 million South Sudanese refugees and local communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda.

After nearly a decade of conflict and despite efforts toward implementing the peace agreement, South Sudan continues to grapple with sporadic violence, chronic food insecurity and the devastating impact of major flooding. The COVID-19 pandemic has also strained people’s resources, significantly reducing their ability to sustainably meet their needs.

Asylum countries are facing similar challenges from the climate crisis and the pandemic but have continued to keep their doors open for refugees. Funding is urgently needed to help these host countries to provide food, shelter, and access to essential services such as education and health care.

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Governments in the five countries of asylum will be supported in their efforts to integrate South Sudanese refugees in national systems for social service delivery. Refugees and local communities will receive help to boost their resilience by identifying and diversifying opportunities to earn a living. This is vital against a backdrop of chronic underfunding for food provision, which continues to result in regular ration cuts.

Support to prevent and respond to gender-based violence as well as provide mental health and psychosocial support will also be scaled up. This follows a worrying rise in reports of depression over the last year, especially among refugees in Kenya and Uganda.

It remains a children’s crisis, with two out of three South Sudanese refugees under the age of 18. Funding is required for child protection including ensuring proper birth registration and family reunification. Many children who were affected by school closures during the pandemic need additional support.

To better protect the environment and to minimize the impacts of the climate crisis, UNHCR is increasing the use of clean energy and making other green investments.

The South Sudan refugee crisis remains the largest on the African continent. It was also one of the least funded in 2021 at only 21 per cent. Global solidarity and support for refugees must be extended to Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Sudan, who have generously welcomed South Sudanese refugees.