UNHCR has assigned a site planner to work closely with UNMISS to set up camps for displaced people at the UNMISS bases in Juba. This assistance can be extended to other sites as needed. UNHCR is also helping to lead inter-agency efforts on camp coordination and management in general, as well as on emergency shelter and non-food supplies.
UNHCR also leads the inter-agency protection cluster, which seeks to ensure the safety of vulnerable, displaced South Sudanese. Its staff take part in missions to assess and respond to the needs of these populations.
UNHCR continues to support the 210,000 refugees inside South Sudan, mainly from Sudan and mainly living in the north.
In Yida and Ajoung Thok refugee camps in Unity State, for example, it provides essential services such as food and water delivery to more than 75,000 people with the help of national staff and partners like Samaritan's Purse, the International Rescue Committee and the Danish Refugee Council.
Workers and volunteers from among the local and refugee communities also play a role in providing services. Healthcare continues in the form of both in-patient and out-patient care and the delivery and care for babies.
Refugee camps in Maban Country, Upper Nile State, also remain operational. For example, some 20 UNHCR staff plus partners have so far been able to carry out food distribution for 122,532 people in Doro (47,422), Yusuf Batil (39,033), Kaya (18,788) and Gendrossa refugee camps (17,289).
Since the fighting began, UNHCR staff in neighbouring countries have been preparing for the arrival of new refugees. As of December 30, a total of 4,693 South Sudanese had arrived in Ethiopia, 3,563 in Uganda, 950 in Kenya and at least several hundred in Sudan.
The fighting and insecurity mean that in some cases UNHCR staff and partners have limited or no access to border areas, such as between South Sudan and Sudan.
"That's why working with partners is vital," Mundia said. "We can monitor what is a fast-changing situation and confirm or dismiss reports of movements we may hear. We are also working with national governments to be ready to receive and assist the new refugees, offering them safety and protection."
One particular focus of UNHCR's work is child protection. Family members are sometimes separated and lost when they have to flee fighting rapidly or with little notice. So, among the activities UNHCR staff carry out are efforts to create child-friendly spaces at camps and to assist in family identification and reunification.
Overall, the situation remains critical in South Sudan, just two years after the country's independence. Along with the international community, UNHCR advocates for a peaceful, political end to the hostilities. And, until then, it calls for increased security and protection for displaced people, refugees and humanitarian workers.
For further information on this topic, please contact:
In Geneva, Daniel MacIsaac on mobile +41 79 200 7617
In Geneva, Babar Baloch on mobile +41 79 557 9106