UNHCR makes good High Commissioner's pledge to communities hosting refugees in White Nile state
The United Nations Refugee Agency has made good the High Commissioner's pledge made last year to collaborate with the national government to provide vital support for refugees and host communities in While Nile State.
This month UNHCR handed over five health centres, two police posts, eight water treatment plants and 31 classrooms that were constructed through its implementing partner, the Sudanese Red Crescent Society. River-crossing and ferry and landing sites have also been improved.
Senior Sudanese Federal and State-level Government officials, including UNHCR’s main counterpart, the Commissioner of Refugees (COR) attended the handover ceremonies.
UNHCR Representative in Sudan, Mohamed Adar, thanked local communities for the welcome they extended towards their former fellow citizens. They shared scarce resources and provided the land that was needed to establish seven sites for the new arrivals.
Adar noted that UNHCR recognized the burden that the large number of refugees had placed on local communities. Improvements in education, water, health, logistics and security services have helped enhance the ability of the two localities to absorb refugees.
“Building on the long-standing generosity of the Sudan Government in receiving refugees," he said, "UNHCR has invested in services to assist refugee and host communities to enhance the unique and peaceful coexistence between the communities in White Nile State. The projects will continue to serve host communities even when refugees from South Sudan are able to return home.”
Hawa a 40-year-old mother from El-Warad village near Dabat Bosin refugee camp is grateful the projects. “Now I can get clean water,” she says of the nearby storage facility. “This really made life easier.” She used to walk four kilometers to the river to fetch water.
Hawa and her three children also attend the health clinic in the nearby refugee camp. Her husband Hussein, a vegetable vendor at a market near Um Sangour another refugee site on the opposite bank of the Nile, now commutes with his goods across the Nile, including during the four month rainy season.
Al Jabalain and El Salam localities on opposite banks of the River Nile together host some 115,000 South Sudanese nationals who sought refuge in While Nile state. About 18,000 are living among local communities, while the rest live in seven camps along the river.
Sudan has a longstanding tradition of hospitality towards refugees and asylum-seekers, with more than 150,000 refugees and asylum-seekers currently hosted in eastern Sudan, Darfur, Khartoum and more recently While Nile State.