With 2018 marking the fifth year of the South Sudanese refugee response, neighbouring countries continued to generously host over 2.27 million South Sudanese refugees, and humanitarian agencies provided ongoing support for the refugees’ live-saving and resilience needs. The 2018 South Sudan Regional Refugee Response plan brought together 70 partners requesting a total of USD 1.38 billion across the six main asylum countries: Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. By the end of 2018, 50 per cent of the required funding had been received.
Across the region, RRP partners achieved a number of tangible results for South Sudanese refugees, including: the provision of food assistance to 1.23 million people, assisted deliveries for 23,000 South Sudanese mothers, support and care provided to 100 per cent of identified survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and the provision of core relief items for 165,000 refugee families.
Significant gains were also made in refugee inclusion by host governments. In Uganda, for example, the Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Water and Environment each initiated sector response plans to include refugees into the current (development) national sector plans. In Ethiopia, the revised Refugee Proclamation, which allows refugees to obtain work permits, access primary education, legally register births and marriages and access national financial services, was unanimously passed by the Council of Ministers in June 2018 and adopted by Parliament in the early weeks of 2019.
However, the situation for many South Sudanese refugees remained particularly challenging in 2018. Some 300,000 refugees who fled in 2013 and 2014 have now been displaced for over four years; at the same time, a further 107,000 new refugees fled South Sudan in 2018. In Sudan, the country now hosting the most South Sudanese refugees, an estimated 90 per cent of refugee families live below the poverty line. Across the region, prolonged displacement and chronic funding shortages have shocking long-term consequences for vulnerable South Sudanese girls and boys, 31 per cent of whom remain out of primary school and over 54,000 who remain separated from their families. In Uganda, there are simply not enough funds to hire enough protection caseworkers, with the child-to-caseworker ratio as a staggering 150:1, far beyond the international standard of 25:1. Just 13.5 per cent of refugee families live in semipermanent shelter and in many locations, refugees struggle to access the daily minimum 20 litres of water per person, with average supply at 11 L per person per day in Sudan, 17 L in Ethiopia and 17.7 L in Kenya. The ability of humanitarian actors to even access refugee families remained a major challenge in CAR, DRC and Sudan, mostly due to the volatile security situation, presence of armed groups, bad road and weather conditions.