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South Sudanese refugee aid underway along Kenyan border

UN humanitarian agencies are assisting some 400 South Sudanese refugees arriving at the Nadapal on the Kenyan border with South Sudan daily. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday they have sustained efforts to provide transportation to thousands of South Sudanese Asylum seekers arriving at Nadapal daily into refugee camps inside Kenya.

IOM and UNHCR said thousands of refugees have been displaced by the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan since conflict broke out in mid-December 2013. Most of the displaced people have been forced to seek asylum in neighbouring Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan and Kenya.

At least 27,279 South Sudanese refugees have crossed through the Nadapal border crossing into Kenya by 16 March. They were provided with onward transportation to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Turkana County, North Western Kenya about 150 Kilometres from the border point.

“We have worked closely with partners to ensure that all new arrivals are received and transported to the camp in safety and dignity,” said UNHCR’s Senior Field Officer, Tamba Amara. 

An average of 400 asylum seekers arrive daily to the crossing point mostly on foot, hired trucks or buses, carrying their belongings.

The aid agencies say women and children make up 80 per cent of the arrivals with many of them walking for 3-4 days to reach the border point.

South Sudan’s political crisis, which spiraled into a military showdown between President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President Riek Machar, continues to worsen.

IOM and UNHCR officials said the two relief agencies are operating a daily convoy currently comprising four buses, three trucks and three lightweight vehicles accompanied by an ambulance and security escort to transport the refugees and their luggage to Kakuma.

Kenya’s Immigration and Department of Refugee Affairs officials receive the South Sudanese refugees at the border point, where they are registered upon crossing the border.

“The operation is now at a full capacity, however, we are now planning around the possibility of an increased number of arriving refugees,” said IOM’s senior operations officer, Ahmed Maher.

The UN Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) provided US$4.6 million in March to meet the urgent needs of the refugees. The funds are used to provide water, food, sanitation and shelter and child protection.

Pana 19/03/2014