Uganda, UN seek $8 billion for South Sudanese refugees

Despite peace agreements and efforts to address a growing refugee crisis, the number of people forcibly displaced around the world continued to climb previous year, according to a United Nations report issued Monday.

According to the UNHCR, Pakistan ranks 2 amongst the countries hosting the highest number of refugees.

A report published today by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, found that there were 65.6 million people forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2016, the highest number since UNHCR was founded in 1950.

A record 65.6 million people are either refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced across the globe, the United Nations refugee agency said. By the end of 2016, 3.3 million people from the world's newest country had fled their homes, more than half to neighbouring countries.

Tens of thousands have been killed and close to 1.8 million forced into exile since South Sudan's on-off conflict began in December 2013. Leaving aside the long-standing Palestinian refugee situation, Colombians (7.7 million) and Afghans (4.7 million) remained the second and third largest populations, followed by Iraqis (4.2 million) and South Sudanese (the world's fastest growing displaced population with 3.3 million having fled their homes by the end of the year). This included 22.5 million refugees, 40.3 million uprooted within their countries and 2.8 million asylum seekers.

Syrians continued to be the largest forcibly displaced population, with 12 million people at the end of 2016.

According to the UNHCR, 20 people were forced to flee their homes every minute in 2016.

Refugee resettlement also rose slightly in 2016, progress that we know has been reversed in 2017 by US President Donald Trump's executive order capping the US intake at its lowest level in 10 years. With 722,400 claims, Germany was the world's largest recipient of new individual applications, followed by the US with 262,000, Italy with 123,000 and Turkey with 78,600. People internally displaced are defined as still living in their home country, but have nowhere to actually live.

More than 950,000 people have fled south to Uganda from South Sudan in recent months - a lot of them women and children - but many refugee camps lack basic services such as food, water and shelter. Within this appeal, UNICEF in Uganda requires almost $50 million in 2017 as well as $30 million in each year from 2018-2020 to provide critical health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education, early childhood development, adolescent development, and child protection interventions, to both refugee and host community children. Some 6.5 million internally displaced people returned to their hometowns a year ago.

Monday's report also pointed to large-scale displacements in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan.

The two countries and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) signed two separate tripartite agreements in May on the voluntary return of the refugees to their countries.

"Until such a time comes, we will do our best - UNHCR and Sudan - to stand with you". The other two top refugee host countries were Pakistan, with 1.4 million, and Lebanon, with 1 million people.

  • Leroy Wright