JUBA Some 1.8 billion U.S. dollars is urgently needed to settle about half a million people displaced due to the conflict in Sudan, the government of South Sudan has said.
On Friday, Government Spokesperson Michael Makuei Lueth, who is also the Information Minister, said over 460,000 people have crossed into South Sudan since the conflict broke out in Sudan in April last year.
Makuei was addressing reporters shortly after the cabinet meeting chaired by President Salva Kiir Mayardit in Juba.
“We listened to a presentation from the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Albino Akol Atak based on a report that covers from 15th April 2023 to 2nd January 2024. H reported that we have received 465,456 arrivals from Sudan within this period. Out of this, 85 percent are South Sudanese who are returnees, and 15 percent are refugees,” Makuei said.
“For the humanitarian affairs to cover all the needs, they need about 1.8 billion U.S. dollars to cover all the costs for the refugees, returnees, host communities and for the transportation of those who have been stranded at the border to be transported to their respective home areas so that they can settle,” he added.
He further said another 100,000 returnees have also entered the country through the Gambella region of Ethiopia. Makuei noted that the number of refugees and returnees began to increase, at the rate of 2,000 people per day, after the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) entered Wad Madani, Al Gazira State.
He said the needed budget would not be shouldered by the government of South Sudan alone but with the help of the international community. Makuei revealed that the cabinet also ratified an agreement on Economic and Trade Technical Agreement signed between China and South Sudan in 2011.
“This agreement was signed on 22nd November 2011, but it could not be processed all this time, could not be presented for ratification for so many reasons, and today (Friday), it was presented to the cabinet, and the cabinet ratified the agreement with effect from today, and it was passed,” he explained.
Cooperation agreement with Egypt
Makuei said the cabinet listened to a presentation from the Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs, Gen. Chol Thon Balok, on his last visit to Egypt from 1st to 8th December 2023 upon an invitation by his Egyptian counterpart.
He said a military agreement was signed between Egypt and South Sudan following the expo, but South Sudan could not acquire arms due to the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations. He clarified that the Egyptian Defense Minister was invited to Juba to operationalize the cooperation agreement.
“They were invited to attend the Egypt Defense Expo 2023, and they benefited a lot, except that they did not make any request or application for buying any equipment simply because we are under an arms embargo,” Makuei added.