Source: International Rescue Committee (IRC) |

Funding cuts could increase health and protection risks in Ugandan refugee settlements as more Sudanese refugees arrive, warns International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Sudan has now become the nation hosting the highest number of displaced individuals, and faces the world's largest child displacement crisis

KAMPALA, Uganda, March 6, 2024/APO Group/ --

Since the start of the Sudan conflict in April 2023, Uganda has received over 15,000 Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers. Additionally, nearly 40% of the total number of refugees that have arrived in the country since January 2024 are from Sudan. The IRC Uganda country program is grappling with significant funding cuts exceeding 30% of the annual budget. As the main health service provider in Kiryandongo refugee settlement in mid-western Uganda, where all Sudanese new arrivals are being received, the IRC is concerned about the strained reception conditions at the settlement, posing health and safety risks to the already vulnerable individuals, especially women, and girls, seeking refuge from conflict. 

Kiryandongo settlement’s reception centre, with a capacity of 520, has managed over 8,000 new arrivals since January. New arrivals spend up to four days (recommended time is 1-2 days) at the reception centre before being relocated to other spaces in the settlement. Recent IRC health clinic data* indicates that between 80-120 new Sudanese arrivals are screened daily, with common health concerns that include respiratory tract infections, malaria, and a range of non-communicable diseases. Additionally, out of the 13 refugee settlements in Uganda, Kiryandongo has one of the highest prevalences of malnutrition, with a Global Acute Malnutrition rate of 9.1%, right below the emergency threshold set by the World Health Organization (WHO). The rate is attributed to a myriad of factors, including the high disease burden (especially malaria), poor food consumption levels, inadequate infant and young child feeding practices due to food scarcity as well as limited anaemia screening for early diagnosis and management. These conditions mean that any disease outbreaks could have devastating effects.

Elijah Okeyo, the IRC Uganda Country Director, said: 

“We need urgent action in terms of resource allocation to address the reception conditions of the Sudanese new arrivals in Kiryandongo settlement. During our interactions with the Sudanese community, including those that have recently arrived at the settlement, they shared their critical need for medication and other basic items, such as mosquito nets, sanitary pads, community health services, transport to health facilities, mental health and psychosocial support and special support for people with disabilities. The IRC is constrained in providing such critical health services at our health facilities in the settlement due to the significant funding cuts that we currently face, affecting staffing and supplies. It is high time global attention is turned to the Sudan conflict and the countries, including Uganda, bearing the brunt of this humanitarian crisis.” 

Since the start of the conflict in Sudan, more than 8 million individuals have been forced to flee their homes, seeking refuge both within and beyond Sudan's borders, with children constituting nearly half of this displaced population. Sudan has now become the nation hosting the highest number of displaced individuals, and faces the world's largest child displacement crisis. Without intervention, further displacement is expected, potentially overwhelming countries like Uganda, which are already grappling with their own challenges.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Rescue Committee (IRC) .