ARRA & UNHCR open a new refugee camp for South Sudanese Refugees following a continuing surge in the number of newly arriving South Sudanese refugees into Gambella region, ARRA together with UNHCR have opened a new camp on May 3 2017 at a place called Gure Shembola in Benishanghul- Gumuz region.

Current new arrival refugee figures from South Sudan has shown a slight decline compared to previous months with the daily average arrival rate standing at a little over 100 individuals. The influx from South Sudan is expected to continue with a fluctuating rate bringing the total number of South Sudanese refugees to more than 377,000 at the end of May 2017.

Nguenyyiel refugee camp, the latest refugee camp opened in Gambella hostsing over 50,000 refugees, was opened only 6 months ago reaching maximum holding capacity by mid April 2017. ARRA has been working closely with the regional authorities of Benishangul-Gumuz and Oromia to find a suitable plot of land for camp use in areas bordering the two regions.

The decision to look for a location for camp establishment outside the Gambella region was made in search of a suitable land to open a new camp due to the unavailability of enough plots to accommodate the influx from South Sudan.

The need to relocate new arrivals to Gure Shembola was necessitated after Nguenyyiel camp reached its 60,000 maximum holding capacity. Since 1 may, more than 1000 refugees were relocated to the camp in subsequent convoys. This followed interagency road assessment missions which also identified and established two way stations at Metu & Gimbi. Hot meals are provided to the relocating refugees to meet daily dietary intake .

The camp will have an initial accommodating capacity of 15,000 refugees under the Assosa zonal coordination office. 85% of the new arrivals originated from Upper Nile state whilst the 14% came from Jonglei while the remaining have fled from Unity state. Refugees continue to receive shelters as construction continues each week complemented by the installation of wash services and other basic services. At Pagak reception center, there are a little over 3,000 refugees awaiting relocation to the camp. While awaiting relocating, registered refugees have access to basic services such as protection, health, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation. Information campaign is ongoing at the center to inform refugees of a relocation into the camp located in Benishanghul-Gumuz as opening a new camp in Gambella will no longer be an option for finding enough and suitable plots of land in Gambella becomes difficult. Currently Gambella region plays host to over 370,000 refugees in seven locations.

ARRA together with partners are currently engaged in camp management and service delivery activities. Both agencies work in close coordination with partners to ensure proper coordination and delivery of refugee protection and assistance services. Camp coordination and technical working groups take place take place both at zonal and camp level.

Story by Suleyman Ali

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