Urgent Action Needed to Save Lives in Renk, South Sudan

Statement from Refugees International Senior Advocate for East and Southern Africa Abdullahi Halakhe:

“As the fighting in Sudan escalates, more people are fleeing across the border to South Sudan, where the situation remains dire and set to get much worse. I’ve just returned from the border town of Renk, where returning South Sudanese find themselves stranded without shelter or basic services, even as the rainy season begins in force.

Already, more than 100,000 people have fled the violence in Sudan to South Sudan, mostly South Sudanese returning, but often without homes to which to return. The insistence of the government of South Sudan on maintaining a minimally resourced transit center in order to avoid the establishment of more permanent camps is impractical at best and, at worst, deadly. 

The reality is that thousands of returnees have been stuck around Renk for weeks and more are arriving daily. The onset of the rainy season is making onward movement even more difficult and, amid unsanitary conditions, has already led to a measles outbreak.

Failure to provide latrines, food, and health services will lead to increased suffering and death due to disease and hunger. There are more than 80 cases of Measles, and four children have died. 

It is therefore essential that newly arrived displaced people in Renk and other border areas receive essential services and that increased funding is provided to address the growing needs. Where safe transport of returnees to other areas is possible, it must be done in a voluntary way, with awareness of barriers including lost or confiscated land and housing, flooding, and ethnic tensions that may make such returns inadvisable.

Most urgently, action must be taken to save the lives of those exposed, stranded, and at immediate risk.”

To schedule an interview, please contact Refugees International’s Vice President for Strategic Outreach Sarah Sheffer at  ssheffer@refugeesinternational.org.