UN Migration Agency Steps Up Life-saving Support in Uganda as South Sudanese Refugees Hit 1 Million

Posted: 
08/18/17
Themes: 
Humanitarian Emergencies

Kampala – The number of South Sudanese fleeing to Uganda has surpassed 1 million. IOM, the UN Migration Agency, has intensified its efforts to help refugees and the communities hosting them in coordination with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Since the crisis erupted in South Sudan in December 2013, nearly 4 million people have been displaced from their homes due to insecurity and rising humanitarian needs.

Since April, IOM has been implementing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects in the country’s West Nile region. This response targets Zone 4 of the Bidibidi settlement in the Yumbe district and the Palorinya settlement in the Moyo district. IOM’s projects are assisting both refugees and Ugandans who live side by side in the settlements and share resources and common services. Bidibidi, which is home to an estimated 276,000 refugees is now considered Africa’s largest refugee settlement. The Palorinya settlement hosts 176,000 refugees.  

These life-saving interventions are funded by the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), and the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

Since mid-2016, increasing instability and conflict throughout Central Equatoria, which borders Uganda, has led to the displacement of thousands of civilians to displacement camps, remote areas and across the border. On Thursday (17/08), UNHCR formally announced that Uganda was hosting at least 1 million South Sudanese refugees fleeing war and its effects in the world’s youngest nation. Some 1,800 South Sudanese crossed the border every day into Uganda over the past 12 months, according to UNHCR.

The influx has put a strain on services such as water, healthcare and education in Uganda. In June 2017, the UN and the Uganda Government hosted the Solidarity Summit on Refugees with Secretary General António Guterres urging the international community to support Uganda’s exemplary refugee protection model.

The EU has committed EUR 2 million to support IOM's humanitarian operations in the country through July 2018.

 IOM’s interventions are aimed at improving the reach, safety and sustainability of water supplies, as well as supporting construction of sanitation and hygiene facilities and promoting their usage. A major challenge is that more than 60 per cent of water is supplied by trucking, which is expensive and unsustainable. Access to sanitation and hygiene reaches 30.6 per cent of the population in Zone 4 of the Bidibidi settlement and only 6 per cent for the entire Palorinya settlement.

 In the two settlements, IOM will motorize three production wells and build piped systems to deliver water to at least 31,000 people, support community water management structures and distribute thousands of jerry-cans for storing drinking water. The sanitation interventions will involve construction of at least 34 institutional latrine blocks and 7,600 household latrines, including for people with special needs. A sludge fecal treatment system, garbage collection points and incinerators will also be set up. Placenta pits and bathing shelters will be built at selected health centres.

Among other activities, IOM will also carry out awareness-creation campaigns and train refugees in hygienic practices and in manufacturing soap, sanitary pads and briquettes.

“The situation in the refugee settlements remains dire, not least because the flow of refugees into Uganda continues. Just one third of the high-yield boreholes that can be motorized to end overreliance on trucking have been adapted, so we still have a long way to go to provide sustainable safe water,” said Ali Abdi, IOM Uganda Chief of Mission. “And with the coverage of minimum acceptable sanitation and hygiene standards lower than 10 per cent in sites such as Palorinya, WASH services for the South Sudanese refugees couldn’t be more urgent,” said Abdi.
For more information, please contact Richard Mulindwa-Kavuma, IOM Uganda, Tel: +256 772 709 917 and +256 700 646 403, Email: rmkavuma@iom.int

  • South Sudanese refugee children in a reception centre within Palorinya settlement in northwestern Uganda. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM)

  • Trucks queuing up for water at Oluba well in Bidibidi settlement.  IOM will motorize this well and pump water into the settlement. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM)