The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has warned that nearly one million refugees from South Sudan are living under dire condition in displacement camps in the conflict-ridden region.
“With refugees fleeing South Sudan in their thousands, surrounding countries are straining under the weight of large numbers of displaced people and critically underfunded operations,” the UNHCR said in a statement on Monday.
“Already there are some 930,000 refugees in the region, and more are arriving daily,” the statement added.
The UN body noted that arrivals of South Sudanese fleeing their country after an outbreak of fresh fighting in the capital, Juba, had peaked at “more than 8,000 in one day” last month.
Ninety per cent of new arrivals were women and children, the agency added.
The UNHCR said despite setting up a new 100,000-capacity camp at Yumbe, in northern Uganda, it urgently needs more money to accommodate nearly one million South Sudanese refugees in six countries in the region, as well as some 1.6 million people internally displaced in the wake of fresh conflicts.
This handout photo provided by the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) and released on July 16, 2016 shows a child crossing through mud as people receive rations of water at the UN compound in the Tomping area in the capital, Juba. (Photo by AFP)
Thousands of people have been killed and more than three million forced to flee their homes in the war that started in December 2013, when South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir sacked then Vice President Riek Machar only two years after the country seceded from Sudan.
The two sides eventually signed an agreement in August 2015 to bring the conflict to an end. As part of the deal, Machar returned to Juba in April to take up the post of vice president in a national unity government.
The northeastern African country has witnessed a new wave of conflict since July 8, when gunfire erupted near the state house in Juba, where Kiir and Machar were meeting for talks. More than 300 people have been killed in the clashes.
The South Sudanese refugees who fled to Uganda have been subjected to robberies and sexual assaults, the UN refugee agency says.