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Obama Approves Money for Sudanese Refugees

  • Kelly J. Kelly

Refugees wait for food aid to be distributed near the volatile border with the north, in Yida refugee camp in South Sudan, November 16, 2011.

Refugees wait for food aid to be distributed near the volatile border with the north, in Yida refugee camp in South Sudan, November 16, 2011.

U.S. President Barack Obama has authorized $26 million in emergency funding to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to respond to the huge influx of Sudanese refugees fleeing the border fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States.

On Tuesday Catherine Wiesner, the State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration said the funding will go to international agencies helping more than 140,000 refugees in South Sudan and Ethiopia.

The funding comes at a time when non-governmental organizations have been appealing for help to cope with the waves of new arrivals.

“The commitment allows UNHCR to finalize agreements with a number of implementing partners that have been responding to this crisis in all the basic sectors of health, water, and food,” she said.

Wiesner returned from Upper Nile State in South Sudan a few weeks ago, where some 85,000 refugees have arrived.

“What I saw was UNHCR and a number of NGO-implementing partners really working flat-out to meet the basic needs of these people," she said. "Some had arrived after months on the move, had fled their homes because of violence and bombing, and had arrived to a remote and sparsely population region of Upper Nile State where even the basics like providing clean water have been a real challenge.”

The U.S.-authorized funding is reserved for new and emerging crises like the humanitarian situation unfolding in Sudan. The refugees have been flooding the border region for several months as the fighting has escalated between the rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army north sector and the government of Sudan.

‘’We’re giving this aid now because we’re aware this is a new, emerging, and urgent crisis in Sudan, South Sudan, and Ethiopia’’ Wiesner said.

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