Nearly 2.32 million South Sudanese have fled to neighboring countries, and 2.22 million remain internally displaced in South Sudan due to violent conflict throughout the country. It is the largest refugee crisis in Africa and the third-largest refugee crisis in the world.
Isn’t South Sudan the newest country in the world? Why are people fleeing?
South Sudan was established as a new country in 2011 after a deadly civil war. Unfortunately, only two years later, in 2013, conflict broke out in the new country, leading to a complex and dangerous situation of armed conflict, economic decline, disease and hunger. This conflict has forced millions to flee and left millions more displaced inside the country.
Who is fleeing South Sudan?
The vast majority (over 83 percent) of those fleeing South Sudan are women and children, with children making up 65 percent of the total South Sudanese refugee population. They are survivors of violent attacks, sexual assault and, in many cases, children have been separated from their parents and are traveling alone.
Where are South Sudanese refugees living now?
The majority of South Sudanese refugees are living in neighboring countries such as Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp and its expansion site, Kalobeyei settlement, host more than 148,000 South Sudanese refugees, one of the largest South Sudanese refugee populations in the world. UNHCR is embracing innovation to give refugees living in Kakuma opportunities for success. For example, Kakuma hosted the world’s first TED Talk in a refugee camp and a refugee-led hackathon.
How is UNHCR working to prevent sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) among South Sudanese refugees?
To mitigate the risks of SGBV, UHNCR works closely with partner agencies and refugee and host communities to build safe shelters, conduct awareness campaigns, strengthen referral mechanisms and sensitize communities on the importance of combatting the problem. UNHCR has established a safe haven system in which volunteer “guardian angels” open up their homes to protect and support South Sudanese refugees who have survived SGBV. UNHCR and partner organizations have also been conducting awareness sessions about female genital mutilation.
When will South Sudanese refugees be able to return home?
UNHCR is neither facilitating nor promoting refugee returns to South Sudan, as the current conditions are not yet conducive for durable, safe and dignified returns. However, UNHCR recognizes the refugees’ right to return to South Sudan and is protecting refugees who’ve decided to do so on their own.
In 2022, refugees from South Sudan continued to make up the largest group of returnees, with 151,300 returning primarily from Uganda(75,500), Sudan (48,900) and Ethiopia (23,300). In 2022 and previous years, returns to South Sudan have been difficult to verify, as they tend to be self-organized, and it can be challenging to reach the areas in which many people return.
Additionally, in late April 2023, following the outbreak of violence in Sudan, around 46,000 out of 800,000 South Sudanese refugees who were living in Sudan were forced to flee back to their homeland due to the devastating humanitarian situation inside Sudan.
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