Churches, Christian Ministries Step Up Response to Growing Refugee Crisis in Sudan

A South Sudanese refugee girl with a baby on her back carries a foam mattress to the communal tent where they will sleep, at the Imvepi reception center, where newly arrived refugees are processed before being allocated plots of land in nearby Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, in northern Uganda, on June 9, 2017. The number of South Sudanese refugees sheltering in Uganda has reached 1 million, the United Nations said on Aug. 17, 2017, a grim milestone in what has become the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
A South Sudanese refugee girl with a baby on her back carries a foam mattress to the communal tent where they will sleep, at the Imvepi reception center, where newly arrived refugees are processed before being allocated plots of land in nearby Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, in northern Uganda, on June 9, 2017. The number of South Sudanese refugees sheltering in Uganda has reached 1 million, the United Nations said on Aug. 17, 2017, a grim milestone in what has become the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Christian agencies and churches are stepping up and coordinating their efforts to respond to the South Sudanese refugee crisis, as the number of people fleeing across the border into northern Uganda reaches 1 million.

Over the past year, militia groups and government forces have defied calls to end fighting, and refugees are also flooding into other neighboring countries.

In Uganda, Christian relief agencies are moving to provide assistance to the nearly 1,800 people arriving daily.

“There is a lot of need,” Anglican Bishop Johnson Gakumba told RNS in a telephone interview.

Gakumba said his church in northern Uganda has been providing assistance in Palorinya, a camp of 300,000 refugees in the diocese, but limited resources have hampered its work.

The UNHCR, the U.N.’s refugee agency, last week said the 1 millionth South Sudanese refugee had crossed into Uganda. Agencies say that despite the deepening crisis, only a small part of the $1.4 billion needed by humanitarian agencies has been received.

It’s estimated that 60 percent of the refugees are children, including many unaccompanied minors who have suffered violence.

“This is a fast-growing humanitarian situation which we have never seen before,” said Benson Okabo, World Vision’s West Nile Refugee Response operations manager. “We are concerned that the donor assistance has been little.”

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SOURCE: 
Religion News Service