Efforts to reclaim peace in South Sudan are yet to bear fruits since conflict broke out in the young nation in mid-December 2013. Four cessation of hostilities agreements have not been respected, even as the country faces additional challenges of food insecurity. UNHCR estimates that 6.5 million people are in need of assistance in South Sudan. Women (at 79 per cent) and children (at 70 per cent) have had to bear the brutal brunt of the conflict.
IOM and UNHCR have sustained efforts to provide lifesaving transportation assistance for hundreds of South Sudanese asylum seekers arriving at Nadapal, the Kenya-South Sudan border.
Since the conflict broke out on 15 December 2013, 45,627 South Sudanese refugees have crossed into Kenya, 194,546 refugees into Ethiopia, 119,709 into Sudan and 136,595 refugees in Uganda (Source: UNHCR as of 9 January 2015).
Over the past one year, IOM and UNHCR have provided onward transportation to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Turkana County, North Western Kenya about 150 Kilometres from the border point.
Numbers Peaked in the first quarter of 2014
During the month of January 2014, an average of 3,000 refugees were provided with transportation assistance per month and the figure spiralled to 7,759 refugees in March, marking the peak of arriving refugees since the onset of the crisis. The numbers peaked following sporadic fighting between the protagonists in South Sudan. A looming food shortage also sparked the exodus because farming activities were disrupted. By February, a UN report indicated that up to seven million people were at risk of food insecurity.
Numbers start to drop
The numbers started to drop in April and by the end of mid-2014, the number slumped to 1,971 refugees arriving and provided with onward transportation.
The numbers further dipped in the coming months and by September, 814 refugees were provided with transportation assistance. By the end of December, 240 refugees were provided with transportation assistance. Due to the low numbers, IOM and UNHCR shifted their daily transportation schedule to three days a week. The drop in numbers can be attributed to a sense of relative stability reported in some parts of the country. Refugees who also made their way to Nadapal border point faced constant bandit attacks. Lack of financial resources by refugees to hire taxis, buses and trucks to transport them and their luggage was also another challenge. Heavy rainfalls made the roads impassable and the refugees were forced to wait for days for the roads to dry up.
As of December 2014, a total of 44,635 refugees received transportation assistance from Nadapal to Kakuma Refugee Camp.