The political landscape and operational context in Sudan changed substantially since April 2019. The Transitional Government has been working on improving structural challenges in different sectors including economic, rule of law, governance and human rights. These developments have been positive in supporting humanitarian access across the country including to the conflict affected areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile States.
The Juba Peace Agreement will be a critical pointer for UNHCR’s work in Blue Nile, the final agreement and relative peace will encourage return of Sudanese refugees from the various refugee camps in the region but also initiate development activities for the existing population. UNHCR plays a vital role in the existing responses, increased role with the expected refugee returnees and as protection and shelter/NFI lead as part of the Two Areas Mechanism. Comprehensive short and long-term intervention by UNHCR and other partners is under planning.
In addition, after the outbreak of violent conflict in Benishangul-Gumuz Region in the Western Ethiopia towards the end of 2020, asylum seekers and refugees crossed the border into Blue Nile State. Asylum seekers and refugees fled their home country due to generalized violence and fear of persecution. As of June 2021, about 7,500 individuals had arrived in Sudan through different border entry points such as Dem Saad, Manchaleng, Yabacher, Menza, Shamfoz and Magano. UNHCR has mounted a response to the influx with operations at the border point while a camp has been established (Camp 6) near Village 6 for relocation of refugees; about 1,900 asylum seekers have been relocated so far.
Further UNHCR has ongoing CERF funded activities that support IDP and IDP returnees as part of a nationwide peacebuilding and stabilization initiative. In support of this initiative, UNHCR provides shelter assistance and CBI. UNHCR also leads the Protection Sector at the state level which will play an enhanced role in the future.
With the identified needs and in support of UNHCR’s role in Blue Nile, a new office has been established and will be fully fledged by November 2021.