South Sudan, Chad, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Egypt… Since fighting broke out between General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo’s paramilitary forces and regular forces in Sudan, the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has called for thousands of internally displaced has been identified. and refugees who have fled to neighboring countries.
Sudan shares borders with South Sudan, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Libya, and the Central African Republic. These countries have seen an influx of thousands of refugees over the past fortnight and are coping best with the influx of traumatized populations. Managing this new wave of refugees is even more difficult as the humanitarian situation in the region was already particularly tense.
“Before this latest crisis, Sudan was already hosting over a million refugees. A third of the population was in need of humanitarian assistance and the number of internally displaced persons in the country stood at 3.7 million,” UNHCR global spokeswoman Olga Cerrado lists.
“We had to relocate our teams that were in war zones and reduce our presence there for security reasons. We are really concerned for these populations who are already dependent on humanitarian aid that we cannot distribute across the country today Can do,” she adds.
See (re)Sudan: Despair of the civilian population
Sudan is not the only country in the region to face a migration crisis over the years. Thus, more than 400,000 Sudanese refugees were already living in 13 camps in Chad and within local communities in the east of the country. Since 15 April, the UNHCR estimates that at least 20,000 additional people have arrived in Chad – some NGOs speak of more than 40,000. According to the UNHCR a figure that “in a worst-case scenario” could go up to 100,000 people for Chad alone.
short of money
And taking charge of these new flows of refugees promises to be more complicated than ever: “In these countries, humanitarian operations, whether UNHCR or other NGOs, have not received the necessary funding to meet the needs of the population”. , explains Olga Cerrado.
“The situation was already complex and with the massive arrival of new refugees, new needs will arise. In Chad, for example, most of those who have arrived in the past two weeks have settled in two villages bordering Sudan. There are very few services, not enough water, no infrastructure, many refugees are literally sleeping on the sand.
(re)read: “Refugees”: the refugee camps that remain
The needs are numerous: food, water, medical and psychological support, reception facilities… But these refugees arrive in areas where services were already saturated and resources were lacking. Even before the conflict broke out in Sudan, the World Food Program warned about the depletion of resources in Chad. “If no additional funding is received, food aid for refugees and internally displaced people will be stopped 100% in May 2023,” warned Pierre Honorat, WFP director in Chad.
(RE)VIEW: Sudan: exodus continues against the backdrop of a new ceasefire
For South Sudan, too, the looming migration crisis promises to be a major challenge: there are more than 800,000 South Sudanese refugee refugees in Sudan, and many of them are now seeking to return to their countries of origin. There will already be 10,000 of them joining South Sudan and this is only the beginning of this exodus. For Marie-Hélène Verney, UNHCR representative in South Sudan, “the most likely scenario is 125,000 returnees and 45,000 refugees from South Sudan”.
“We are only at the beginning of the struggle”
“What worries us is that we are only at the beginning of the struggle,” explains Olga Cerrado. “If the situation worsens in Sudan, refugees who wish to leave the country later will face even greater difficulties and may lose access to basic humanitarian services. »
See (re)food: the World Food Programme’s cry of alarm
In the face of the looming migration crisis, the mobilization of the international community is even more important. “We must work on this topic and provide the necessary funds to host countries and humanitarian organizations on the ground to enable them to meet these new needs,” confirmed Olga Cerrado.
But meeting the shortfall may be difficult: on April 14, the day before the fires broke out in Sudan, WFP had already estimated it needed $142.7 million to fund its mission in Chad, and $172.5 million to the UNHCR alone. Dollars required.