Gov’t, UNHCR conduct joint verification of urban refugees

Gov’t, UNHCR conduct joint verification of urban refugees

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in collaboration with other development partners and the government of South Sudan is conducting a verification exercise for the urban refugees who reside in Juba.

The verification exercise that started yesterday will run for at most six weeks at the refugee reception centre site in Tonping as planned by the partners involved.

The exercise is geared towards identifying the population of the urban refugees to update registered refugees’ information. Consequently, this will ensure a comprehensive dataset for implementing assistance and protection programs, the UNHCR Commission for Refugee Affairs revealed.

The refugees are provided with relevant documentation such as Ration Cards, ID Cards, and the Proof of Registration document based on their refugee status and the validity and condition of the documents at hand.

UNHCR said it only verifies registered active refugees, on hold, newborn babies with supporting documents and registered persons who are closed or inactive.

 “These cases will be processed following successful litigation,” it said.

In the process, the agency said it will physically verify all registered refugees and inactivate any absentees. The agency also urged the refugees to go to the centre to ensure their status is verified within the given period.

“All family members have to present themselves in person during the verification process and should bring any documents in their possession or any documents that will support their claim during the verification process. These include the ration cards and ID cards,” the agency urged.

Meanwhile, Senior Protection Officer at the Commission of Refugee Affairs (CRA), Daniel Chagai Gak, said there are more than 3,000 urban refugees in South Sudan who fled their countries because of conflict, and now live in different towns in the country.

Mr Gak told The City Review that the verification exercise will target 400 refugees a day throughout the stipulated weeks to allow for them to turn up.

Two documents are issued to the urban refugee according to Gak.  One of the documents is for the refugees who are fully recognised and the other is for asylum seekers whose refugee status is temporary.

Sheltering foreign nationals

He revealed that currently, South Sudan is hosting more than 200 asylum seekers from the Tigray region of Ethiopia, who were serving as peacekeepers with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

“Recently we [received] refugees mainly from Ethiopian Tigray region who were here as peacekeepers but when there was fighting in Tigray region last year in November, those who were asked to relocate to go back to Ethiopia opted to seek asylum here in South Sudan.

“So we have more than 204 who are from Tigray region, and now they are here and stationed in Rweng Administrative area,” Gak revealed to The City Review in an interview on Monday.

Gak said the exercise will help the government to establish the exact data of urban refugees who require the necessary protection. He noted that some of the refugees have been victims of arrest by immigration officers deployed to register foreign nationals leaving in Juba.

 “This verification is intended to know the number of refugees in urban cities like in Juba, Yei, Wau or in Bor and other areas because they are mainly in Juba, so that is the intention. We want to know the number exactly, how many refugees? how many asylum seekers in South Sudan and especially in Juba here,” he said.

“It is also done for better protection because if we know the number then we will be able to protect the refugees who are in urban centres because now there is a registration that is going on taken by immigration but the refugees are exempted from that and we want their number,” Gak lamented.

According to him, refugees in South Sudan are more than 300,000 with a recent influx from Ethiopia but the majorities are from Sudan. There are also some from the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.