22 November 2012

South Sudan: UNHCR High Commissioner Visits South Sudan

Juba — The Head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres arrived in South Sudan yesterday for a three-day visit to assess the progress of the agency's humanitarian response in the country.

Mr. Guterres, according to a UNHCR press release, would conduct meetings with government officials as well as donor country representatives. He is also expected to visit some of the refugee settlements in greater Upper Nile.

"This is the High Commissioner's second visit to South Sudan in ten months. His first trip took place, when the influx was gaining momentum and humanitarian actors were mounting a major operation in remote and inaccessible areas from scratch", reads the press release in part.

The visit is at a "critical moment" when humanitarian agencies are scaling up efforts to cope with an upsurge of Sudanese refugees fleeing the troubled regions of Blue Nile and South Kordofan of Sudan.

The number of refugees is expected to rise as the roads will soon become passable after the rainy season, according to UNHCR which further explains that a sharp increase in the number of new arrivals was noted in the second week of November, with a peak of over 800 people a day compared to some 65 people a day in September and October.

UNHCR says it anticipates between 15,000 and 30,000 new refugees to arrive by January. To cope with the influx, it is preparing new sites and prepositioning relief items.

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