Juba, June 22, 2012 (SSNA) -- The UN refugee agency has announced positive results in the search for water which has been on-going in the refugee settlements.
The announcement came as Chris Nikoi, acting Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan and Country Director of the World Food Programme was visiting Maban county to mark World Refuge Day.
UNHCR Representative in South Sudan, Mireille Girard said "Two additional boreholes have recently been tested and found to have high yield while another has showed promise during the development phase." Yusuf Batil is the newest of three refugee sites in Maban County where some 18,000 refugees have recently been relocated from transit points closer to the border.
"We are drilling more boreholes. Moreover, our water specialist has identified a backup system to provide from a nearby shallow water source water using a jet drilling technique." Girard added that this would provide adequate water to receive the remaining 14,000 refugees still at Kilo 18 transit site. She noted that the relocation operation should be completed within a week, if the weather permits.
The UNHCR Representative cautioned that many challenges still remain. She cited the poor health status of the new arrivals, highlighting risks such as the high incidence of diarrhea and communicable diseases as well as the yet insufficient water, sanitation and health outreach services in several locations. In particular, she cited Jammam settlement from where 12,000 refugees will be assisted to relocate to another site in order to ease pressure on the limited water supply.
Girard added that all efforts are being deployed to ensure assistance reaches the refugees as fast as possible. Twelve airlifts carrying 180 tons of relief items and tents for the refugees have already been completed and another 16 are due in the coming days.
The acting Humanitarian Coordinator welcomed these developments. He said, "The discovery of additional water is a great relief given that refugees are forced to endure long journeys on foot." He saluted the refugees' resilience noting that the majority had traveled for days, even weeks, without proper food and had drunk untreated water along the way.
Commending the efforts of humanitarian actors, Nikoi said, "They have operated tirelessly in very challenging circumstances, as wave after wave of refugees continue to cross the border. The sheer numbers of new arrivals and the geography of the refugee hosting zones have combined to make this a highly complex emergency response operation."
Thanking the acting Humanitarian Coordinator for his visit, UNHCR's head of operations in Maban county, Fred Cussigh said, "For weeks, the humanitarian community drilled four rigs simultaneously in Jammam and Yusuf Batil to find water for the refugees without much success. This is now a step in the right direction." He added that while the onset of the rainy season will temporarily provide additional water, the effort to address the chronic water problem in refugee hosting areas of Maban county will continue.
Close to 170,000 refugees fleeing Sudan's Blue State and South Kordofan State have been arriving in South Sudan since July 2011 after fighting broke out in the two Sudanese provinces. In Upper Nile there was a surge of 35,000 new arrivals from Blue Nile state three weeks ago, while Unity state has seen an average of 1,000 refugees enter the country from Southern Kordofan every day.
Following the sharp surge in arrivals, UNHCR has increased its planning figures for Sudanese refugees in South Sudan from 135,000 to 235,000 by the year's end. UNHCR has also revised its funding requirements for the emergency response operation from USD 111 million to USD 186 million.