South Sudan

5,000 S.Sudanese flee fighting to Uganda


So far over 5,000 South Sudanese refugees have crossed into Ugandan territory in recent weeks.

The United Nations refugee agency said recent fighting between Government and opposition forces in Western Bahr al Ghazal has displaced more than 96,000 people to Wau town, in the northwest of the country.

Ariane Rummery, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva that neighbouring countries are now reporting rising refugee inflows.

“With the Regional Refugee Response Plan funded at just 8 per cent, many life-saving services are threatened,” Ms. Rummery said. “UNHCR is extremely concerned.”

The spokesperson said that an estimated 52,000 South Sudanese have fled into Sudan since late January, exceeding planning projections for 2016.

At present, the refugees are mainly in East and South Darfur and West Kordofan.

UNHCR non-food item distributions by truck in East Darfur are expected to begin on Wednesday and distributions have already taken place to all new arrivals in South Darfur and to some of the new population in West Kordofan, she said.

Ms. Rummery noted that the World Food Programme (WFP) has been distributing one-month food rations to new arrivals in East and South Darfur, and is prepared to begin distributions in West Kordofan pending security clearance from authorities.

Together with partner agencies, a three-month response plan has been prepared to accommodate an additional 120,000 new arrivals before June.

In addition, Ms. Rummery said that Uganda has seen a sharp increase in refugee arrivals from South Sudan since January, sometimes as many as 800 individuals per day.

In all, 28,000 South Sudanese – 86 per cent of them women and children – have sought refuge in Uganda.

The site where the South Sudanese refugees are sheltered, Maaji III, which is in the north-west of the country, is nearing capacity and basic life-saving services and other services are severely stretched, the spokesperson said.

She also said that Ethiopia, which hosts some 285,000 South Sudanese refugees, is seeing a recent – albeit more modest – increase in arrivals after a long period in which there were very few new refugees.

This recent spike in the rate of arrivals from South Sudan followed a long lull with an average daily arrival rate of less than one for the past two months, according to Ms. Rummery.

UNHCR and partners have been providing basic assistance, including corn soya blend to children, plastic sheets, mosquito nets, blankets, sleeping mats and water jerry cans at the camp.

Ms. Rummery went on to say that while fighting has subsided in the Western Equatoria region of South Sudan since February, some 12,000 people crossed into the Democratic Republic of the Congo and sought shelter in the north-eastern province of Haut-Uélé in the past few months.

The spokesperson also said that UNHCR’s Kakuma Operation in north-eastern Kenya has recorded a steady increase in new arrivals from South Sudan, rising from an average of 100 people a month at the start of this year to 350 people a week over the past two months.

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