NAIROBI, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Aid agencies on Friday launched a revised appeal for South Sudan, seeking 701 million U.S. dollars to help refugees which could pass 1 million mark this year if cross-border displacement trends continue.
Regional Refugee Coordinator for the South Sudan situation Ann Encontre expressed fears about the possibility fresh outflows of refugees in the wake of the recent military crisis in Juba and the dearth of funding for South Sudanese refugees.
"We have received 17 percent of the initial 638 million dollars that we had appealed for this year," Encontre said in a statement during the launch of the appeal in Nairobi.
"This has forced us to prioritize emergency response and life-saving activities, at the expense of critical water, sanitation, hygiene, health and shelter interventions for refugees," she added.
The revised appeal was launched by 46 UN partners along with national and non-governmental organizations in all of South Sudan's neighboring countries.
Encontre reiterated UNHCR's call on all armed parties to ensure safe passage for people fleeing fighting to seek safety and asylum.
She noted that while the security situation in Juba has improved since the declaration of a ceasefire on July 11, there are disturbing reports of increasing tension and sporadic fighting in other parts of the country, including in Wau (Western Bahr-Al-Ghazal), in Leer town (Unity), and in Yei (Central Equatoria).
There are also reports of civilians stranded at Nimule border town who failed to cross into Uganda.
The move comes after the UN on Thursday ordered the temporary relocation of some non-critical staff from Juba, South Sudan, given the operational challenges caused by the recent fighting there.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said some non-critical staff from the Mission, as well as from UN agencies, funds and programs, have been ordered to relocate temporarily "due to the recent fighting in Juba and subsequent associated operational challenges."
But UNMISS and UN entities "will continue running critical operations to support the people of South Sudan, including protecting civilians and providing humanitarian assistance," the spokesperson added.
The fighting between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and the SPLA in Opposition, which backs First Vice-President Riek Machar, reportedly killed some 272 people, including 33 civilians, and displaced at least 36,000 civilians.
Encontre said that although children constitute 70 percent of the refugee population, child protection activities including in the education sector are severely compromised.
Noting that the overall planning figure had risen from 867,239 to 973,000, the regional refugee coordinator said that in the first four months of this year, countries like Sudan and Uganda received between 70 and 90 percent of their planned 2016 population.
Encontre lauded neighboring for keeping their borders open, noting that the number of countries hosting South Sudanese refugees has expanded to include the Central African Republic (10,454 refugees) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (11,966), in addition to Ethiopia (285,657), Kenya (103,104), Sudan (231,638) and Uganda (224,420).
She made a special appeal for the children, who are the worst affected by fighting in South Sudan, and of whom over half a million have been forced to flee the country.
"They are supposed to be the generation of tomorrow, the generation that will lead and rebuild their country, but right now, they are suffering enormously. They have been deprived of a normal life," Encontre said.
"Many of them are in camps or in settlements outside their country or internal displacement sites inside South Sudan. They cannot go to school, they do not have proper food, they cannot access health-care. We are doing what we can to keep them in good health, but the challenges to cater to their needs are really enormous," she added.