Background and Achievements
Sudan hosts the largest population of South Sudanese refugees in the region, with more than 850,000 individuals reported across the country as of December 2018. Among these, nearly 385,000 fled to Sudan since the outbreak of conflict in South Sudan in 2013, and have been registered or recorded at reception areas by UNHCR and the Government’s Commissioner of Refugees (COR). An additional estimated 467,000 South Sudanese have been recorded by various government and UN sources, most of whom were living in Sudan prior to the conflict in South Sudan and are recognized by the Government as refugees because they cannot safely return home. These individuals are yet to be officially registered by UNHCR and COR. Overall, the Government of Sudan estimates there are up to 1.3 million South Sudanese refugees in Sudan; however, additional estimates require further verification.
Six years since the start of the conflict in South Sudan, Sudan continues to receive a regular flow of South Sudanese refugee arrivals each month. The number of new arrivals peaked at nearly 200,000 people in 2017, and the rate has slowed in 2018 as compared to previous years, with nearly 27,000 arriving between January and September 2018. It is expected that refugees will continue to arrive in smaller numbers. Progress was made in 2018 with the signing of the Revitalized Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) on 12 September 2018 under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD. While parties to the conflict have expressed commitment to upholding the agreement, its full implementation will take time and ongoing violations are reported. Based on this assessment, inter-agency partners estimate up to 50,000 new arrivals to Sudan by the end of 2019, for a total refugee population of just over 900,000 refugees moving into 2020.
Sudan shares a 2,000 km border with South Sudan, and refugees from South Sudan cross into White Nile, South Kordofan, West Kordofan, East Darfur and South Darfur states through at least 14 different entry points. North Darfur, North Kordofan and Khartoum states also receive onward movements of refugees seeking livelihood opportunities. The majority of refugees are women and children (82%), who arrive in poor health after traveling many days to reach Sudan, often by foot, and who are in urgent need of protection, nutrition, shelter and health support. Many new arrivals are also coming from parts of South Sudan experiencing high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition.
The Government of Sudan has maintained an open border policy, allowing safe and unrestricted access to its territory for those fleeing conflict and conflict-related food insecurity in South Sudan. New arrivals are granted refugee status, as per the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between UNHCR and the Government of Sudan’s Commission for Refugees (COR) in September 2016.
Approximately 79% of the current South Sudanese refugee population are living outside of official camps, alongside host communities in more than 100 out-of-camp settlements in South Kordofan, West Kordofan, East Darfur, South Darfur and North Darfur. These include large collective self-settlements where thousands of refugees live in “camplike” communities adjacent to reception centres, as well as smaller dispersed self-settlements where refugees live in a more integrated manner with the host community. Many out-of-camp settlements are in remote and underdeveloped areas, where resources, infrastructure and basic services are extremely limited. In some out-ofcamp areas of East Darfur, South Kordofan and West Kordofan, insecurity and geographic isolation can pose challenges to regular access by response partners. Refugee populations living in North Darfur are also living in remote and difficult to access areas. Sudan’s rainy season (June to September) further aggravates logistics of access, with many camp and out-of-camp areas difficult to access or completely inaccessible for weeks and months at a time due to washed out roads.
Inter-agency partners see it as critical to strengthen the provision of government services in health, education, social services and water provision, as well as community-based assistance responses to these areas in order to allow refugees to attain self-reliance in out of camp settings. The provision of more sustained support to public services in the areas of health, education water sanitation provides a sustainable win-win for both refugees and host communities.
Furthermore, there are nearly 180,000 refugees living across 9 camps in White Nile, and 2 camps in East Darfur. It remains difficult to ensure that adequate space and basic services are available to absorb new arrivals while sustaining service provision to the existing caseloads in the camps. Over-crowding and congestion remain a serious concern, with all camps currently hosting populations beyond initial capacity. This is particularly problematic in White Nile, where the majority of South Sudanese refugees arrived in 2017. In addition to the establishment of a new camp at Al Jameya, land extensions have been secured for 3 other camps in White Nile State to accommodate an additional 5,000 households. In East Darfur, requests for additional land for Kario and Al Nimir camps are ongoing and negotiations with private landowners and host communities are lengthy.