Number of South Sudanese fleeing to Uganda tops one million in the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis

As the war in South Sudan continues, refugees continue to flee to neighbouring countries seeking safety and shelter. Uganda has provided protection for more than one million South Sudanese refugees to date.

August 17, 2017

In response to the announcement by the UNHCR that one million South Sudanese refugees are now in Uganda, Ranjan Pudyal, Oxfam South Sudan’s Country Director, said:

As long as the senseless, costly and brutal war in South Sudan continues, its people will continue to flee to find protection, food, water and shelter.
-Ranjan Pudyal

“As long as the senseless, costly and brutal war in South Sudan continues, its people will continue to flee to find protection, food, water and shelter. More than anything, they need peace at home. South Sudan’s neighbouring countries and the international community must honour their commitments to get South Sudan’s warring parties back to the negotiating table. Until then, it will not be safe for South Sudanese refugees to return home, forcing them to depend on aid across the border.” 

Victoria Hopkins, Humanitarian Program Manager at Oxfam Canada added:

“As they flee, people lose their possessions, crops and income, and often get stranded in places where there aren’t enough facilities to support them. Most are women and children who are particularly vulnerable to the risks that come with finding aid and services away from their communities, including safe access to public sanitation facilities, and essential sexual and reproductive healthcare. We have seen alarming increases in sexual violence against women and girls, including rape, and sexual exploitation and abuse.”

Peter Kamalingin, Oxfam Uganda’s Country Director, said:

“Uganda’s open-door policy to refugees has provided protection for one million South Sudanese. This is the third-largest population of refugees in the world. Yet Uganda is one of the most under-funded host nations. If the international community does not increase support to Uganda’s refugee response it could quickly buckle and fail. Donor governments must urgently release funds critical in supporting refugees with life-saving aid, and long-term support for those who have already fled their country. ”

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Notes to Editors: 

The South Sudan refugee response in Uganda and across the region is severely underfunded. In Uganda, of the UN appeal for $673 million this year, only 17% has been received so far. At the recent Refugee Solidarity Summit the Government of Uganda appealed for $2 billion to meet the humanitarian and development needs of all refugees in the country. Less than a quarter was pledged towards this with just $431.1 million committed.

86% of refugees are women and children in need of very specific services and support.

Uganda is also a host country for refugees from DRC, Burundi, and CAR.

There are 1.94 million internally displaced people in South Sudan. One in three people have been forced from their homes since December 2013. Almost six million people are in need of emergency aid.

Oxfam is working from 10 bases across the country to get food, water and hygiene items to people. We have been working in Panyijar County, which is where many people from the famine-affected areas have fled. Oxfam is providing vouchers for canoes so that people seeking shelter from the conflict on islands in the swamps can get to the help they need.

To help prevent diseases like cholera, Oxfam is providing clean water, safe sanitation facilities and essential hygiene items.

In South Sudan, Oxfam has provided regular emergency food distributions to over 415,000 people since February.  

Contact information

For more information please contact:

Shirlee Engel
Media Relations
Oxfam Canada 
(613) 240-3047
shirlee.engel@oxfam.org