Swedish State Secretary Diana Janse visited South Sudan with UNHCR

On 11–13 April, Swedish State Secretary Diana Janse travelled to South Sudan with Deputy High Commissioner in the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Kelly Clements. Sweden is one of the largest donors to UNHCR.

During their three-day trip, they visited Renk, where hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese returnees and Sudanese refugees have arrived since April 2023 fleeing the conflict.Talking to women and young people at the two transit centres that UNHCR and partners have established and operate in Renk, they heard stories of fear and hardship of people fleeing the conflict, but also the hope that South Sudanese returnees carry with them as they return to a country many have never known. Clements and Janse witnessed the embarkation of a barge carrying hundreds of newly returned South Sudanese downriver to Malakal, on their long journey back to their communities.

“Sweden will remain engaged in supporting displaced people in South Sudan and the hundreds of thousands fleeing the crisis in Sudan,” Janse said. “In addition to our unearmarked core funding to all the main UN actors on the ground, the Swedish Government decided a few days ago to allocate 30 million SEK (US$2.9 million) specifically to the UNHCR response in South Sudan.”

“This is a lifeline for refugees and returnees, and we are deeply grateful for Sweden’s continued support,” said Clements, “It is in large-scale emergencies such as this one that the flexible funding that Sweden has long provided UNHCR becomes particularly important; without unearmarked contributions, UNHCR would not be able to respond from the start of an emergency.”

Returning citizens struggling to integrate

More than 640,000 people have fled to South Sudan since the conflict in Sudan started a year ago. More than half a million are South Sudanese, many of whom had never lived in South Sudan before. The crisis has put enormous pressure on the South Sudanese economy, and many returning citizens are now trying to integrate into communities that were already struggling.
According to the 2024 South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan, 75 per cent of the total population of the country requires humanitarian aid.
“While determined to continue playing a prominent role in the humanitarian response to this crisis, at the end of the day, what we hope to see in the coming years is for South Sudan to break the pattern of over-dependency on international assistance and lead the way in the development of the country through its own resources and political energy,” said Janse, commenting on Sweden’s recent decision to phase out its bilateral development aid.
More than 8.5 million people have been forcibly displaced in and outside of Sudan since the conflict started in Khartoum on 15 April 2023. Nearly 2 million have fled the country, most of them -640,000 people – South Sudan.

Sweden’s total support to UNHCR for 2024 amounts to SEK 923 million. Sweden’s humanitarian support to South Sudan for 2024 thus far totals SEK 199 million.

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