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South Sudan seeks Saudi Arabia’s support for refugees

By Charles K Mark

South Sudan seeks financial support from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to support thousands of returnees and refugees who fled the war in Sudan.

Humanitarian Affairs Minister, Albino Akok Atak, returned from Saudi Arabia after delivering a letter to His Majesty King of Saudi Arabia.

According to the minister, the letter explained plight of the fleeing Sudan war.

“So the letter was to explain this and of course, to invite the contribution and to mobilize resources on how best we can serve these people that have been affected by crisis in Sudan,” Minister Atak told the media upon arrival at the airport.

He said the letter was received by the prince and now awaits positive response from the Saudi Arabian government.

Atak stated the region needs to mobilize resources to respond to the crisis, as delays may affect the whole region.

“So, the impact is beyond the capacity we had. This is why, since it is a regional incident or regional conflict that is affecting all the neighboring countries, which South Sudan is part of it. So, we had to mobilize the region so that we, all of us, respond to this crisis, because delaying may affect the whole region,” he stated.

Over 250,000 returnees have been registered, with more arrivals daily, raising the expected number to over half a million, according to the minister.

He said due to resource constraints, about 131,000 have been moved from the entrance sites to their final destination.

“Sometimes some of them are stranded, specifically in Renk, Paloich and Malakal because more than 80 percent of these people who are coming come through those routes,” Added Mr. Atak.

Last week, the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urged humanitarian organizations to scale up response to ease the difficulties faced by people fleeing conflict from Sudan to the Upper Nile State.

The agency reported that thousands of returnees arriving sick and exhausted at the Bulukat transit center in Malakal, northeastern South Sudan, after traveling almost 72 hours by boat on the White Nile River.

The Bulukat transit center hosts about 5,000 people at any one time, many of them having to wait for weeks for onward transfers, it said.

Also, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi appealed for one billion US dollars to address the humanitarian needs of Sudanese war victims in the region.

Out of the one billion dollars, South Sudan will receive 356 million, while the remaining will go to Chad and Egypt, among other countries receiving Sudanese refugees.

Sudan has been a major supplier of food and non-food items to the Northern region of South Sudan, which has been cut off since the war broke out in April this year.

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