The evacuation of more than 20,000 South Sudanese who fled Sudan could be halted by the end of the month unless more funding is found, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said Friday.
"A shortage of funds may force the IOM to suspend operations" in the town of Renk, where the bulk of the refugees are located, agency spokesman Jumbe Omari Jumbe told reporters in Geneva.
The situation is becoming critical in Renk since this is practically "the only way in" to the country after Sudan closed the rest of its border with South Sudan following Juba's secession in July 2011, the IOM spokesman said.
Of the $45.9 million (37.4 million euros) requested by the IOM to help stranded returnees in South Sudan, the agency has received just $5.5 million.
Because of the shortfall, the IOM only has sufficient funds to transport approximately 5,000 refugees by river barges from Renk to the capital Juba between now and September, Jumbe said.
"Funding for transport will be completely exhausted by the beginning of September," he added.
Since the beginning of 2012, an estimated 116,000 people have returned to South Sudan from Sudan.
In 2011 the IOM helped to transport 50,000 stranded returnees by river barges, boats, buses, trains and planes to their final destinations.© ANP/AFP