Published: Fri, August 18, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

One million South Sudan refugees now in Uganda, United Nations says

One million South Sudan refugees now in Uganda, United Nations says

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today reiterating its call to the worldwide community for urgent additional support for the South Sudan refugee situation and Uganda in particular, where the number of refugees from South Sudan has now reached 1 million.

The largest of the settlements hosting refugees from South Sudan, Bidi Bidi, is roughly 230 square kilometres.

"For Uganda, $674m is needed for South Sudanese refugees this year, but so far only a fifth of this amount has been received", the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said in a statement.

The U.N.'s refugee agency reported Thursday that an average of 1,800 South Sudanese arrived daily in Uganda over the past year.

Exhausted families continue to arrive in Uganda this week as the total number of South Sudanese refugees in the country hit the one million mark.

Three quarters of the South Sudanese refugees in Uganda have arrived in the past year, overwhelming the country's resources, says the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

Oil-rich South Sudan became the world's youngest nation in 2011, upon its independence from neighboring Sudan, but the elation soon evaporated amid corruption and ethnic divisions.Troops loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, and forces under former vice president Riek Machar, from the Nuer ethnic group, have battled each other since late 2013, killing tens of thousands and forcing almost a third of the population of 12 million to flee their homes. There is critical need to establish long-term funding streams for the continuation of high quality programming, as only 17% of the around US$673M required for the overall response has been raised as of August 4.

Since then, South Sudan has continued its downward spiral of violence, and a starvation was declared for the first time in over six years in the country's northern Unity state.

However, independence failed to bring peace, with a political power struggle between President Salva Kiir and former vice-president Riek Machar escalating into a civil war between ethnic groups.

Amnesty International has documented evidence of unlawful killings, sexual violence, detention, torture, the purposeful destruction of private and public property, the use of food as a weapon of war and other serious human rights violations in South Sudan; all of which have been drivers of forced displacement into neighboring Uganda.

Aid is needed in particular for Uganda, where the number of refugees from South Sudan has now reached 1 million, it said.

The commissioner has commended the role played by the Sudan towards refugees and its support for the United Nations and the UNHCR programmes in particular. Another 1 million or more South Sudanese are sheltering in Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Congo and Central African Republic. This also forced the World Food Programme to cut food rations for refugees. Health clinics across the country are also experiencing a lack of doctors, healthcare workers and medicine. Schooling, meanwhile is also being impacted. Many refugee children are dropping out of education as the nearest schools are too far away for them to easily access.

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