South Sudan crisis set to become Africa’s largest

LWF receiving refugees at Lefori collection point, in Northern Uganda. Photo: LWF/ C. Kästner

LWF appeals for funds

(LWI) - The plight of refugees from South Sudan is set to become Africa’s largest refugee crisis, with the Lutheran World Federation on the frontline in South Sudan and the countries receiving the refugees, including Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.

The United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR, expects the South Sudan war to result in Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the Rwanda genocide 24 years ago. After five years of conflict, the number of refugees is projected to cross the three million mark by the end of this year.

Lennart Hernander, Program Representative for LWF World Service Kenya-Djibouti says Kenya sees a slow but continued influx of refugees, with more people crossing every day. Citing a story of a five day old girl born in the hospital of the Kakuma refugee camp two weeks after her mother arrived at the Nadapal border transit centre after the long journey from Juba:

“I was at the reception centre in Kakuma, which is managed by the LWF, and met a five day old baby. Her mother had given birth in Kakuma after fleeing from Juba in her last month of pregnancy. I have seen many refugees come in various situations, but to flee your home and make the dangerous, tedious, long journey with two children and eight months pregnant says something about the desperation of the situation.”

Hernander said the most pressing needs are for food, as food rations are insufficient. In addition, more money is also needed to invest in education. “This is the future of South Sudan that we help to create now. We need to make sure that the future South Sudan has educated people to break the vicious circles of war. We need to invest in technology, education and livelihoods for the future.”

The LWF has operations in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. Among the services it provides are water and sanitation facilities, shelter, programs to support livelihoods and refugee protection services. A special focus lies on the vulnerable refugees like unaccompanied and separated children, the elderly, pregnant women and young mothers.

UNHCR says that with the conflict now in its fifth year, nearly 2.5 million South Sudanese have fled to six neighbouring countries. A third of the population has been forcibly displaced, either within South Sudan or across its borders. Inside the country, seven million people need assistance. The UN refugee agency has launched a US$1.5 billion appeal for refugees fleeing to other countries and a US$1.7 billion appeal for people in need within South Sudan this year.