In January 2020, the Refugee Consultation Forum, co-chaired between UNHCR and the Commission for Refugees (COR) launched the first comprehensive refugee response plan in Sudan. By the end of August 2020, the RCF launched a COVID-19 Addendum that re-prioritized and added some live-saving activities to the existing response.
The 2020 annual report of the Sudan Country Refugee Response Plan (CRP) summarizes the achievements of its reporting partners, including local and international NGOs, as well as UN Agencies.
Over the course of 2020 Sudan was hit by several crises that affected refugees and asylum seekers as well as host communities. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sudan led to curfews and lockdowns that restricted movement and income opportunities while overburdening an already weak health system that struggled to cope with the additional requirements of testing, treatment and isolation of suspected cases. The COVID-19 pandemic required CRP partners to reprioritize funding and increase the overall appeal of the 2020 CRP to respond to the additional needs that emerged.
Secondly, Sudan continued to face an economic crisis with an annual inflation rate of 269.33% at the end of 2020 and a rapid depreciation of the local currency against the US Dollar. Further, consequences of the economic situation were acute fuel shortages that hampered service delivery and transportation of staff and goods to those in need.
Thirdly, Sudan experienced record floods during the 2020 rainy season that affected all populations across Sudan including refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs), returnees and vulnerable residents. Particularly in Khartoum South Sudanese refugees living in the “Open Areas” were heavily affected by flooding.
Fourthly, after conflict erupted in Ethiopia in November 2020 more than 50,000 refugees crossed the border in East Sudan which triggered an emergency response in the states of Kassala, Gedaref and Blue Nile States that continues to date. During the first months of the emergency transit centres were established at the border areas while new refugee sites were prepared further inland to provide a safe space for refugees to live while they are in exile.
All the mentioned emergencies have required a high degree of flexibility from CRP partners to use their resources to assist those refugee populations with the highest needs. The need to respond to newly occurring emergencies also meant that the targets of the response had to be adjusted to meet the identified needs.
Although refugees continued to arrive in Sudan during 2020, at the end of 2020 UNHCR and COR reported 1,056,326 refugees living in Sudan which was 14,708 less than at the end of 2019. This was based on a reduction in Khartoum of 91,576 South Sudanese refugees following protection assessment and mapping of unregistered South Sudanese refugees.
Despite the challenges in 2020, 811,574 health consultations were accessed by refugees thanks to CRP partners.
While the overall funding level of the 2020 CRP was 43% this shows the commitment and dedication of all CRP partners to provide services to refugees in an extremely challenging environment.
While CRP partners reached 80% of the targeted refugees for food assistance other activities including biometrical registration and school enrolment made little progress in 2020 mostly due to lockdown measures in 2020 where for approximately six months registration stopped, and schools were closed from 15 March 2020 until the beginning of the following year.