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Over 70,000 South Sudanese seeking asylum in Uganda

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March 14, 2014 (KAMPALA) - Over 70,000 South Sudanese are registered in Uganda as asylum seekers according to office of Ugandan prime minister, with the vast majority believed to have fled the devastating conflict that began in Juba in mid-December and has spread to other parts of the world’s youngest nation.

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Thousands of refugees fleeing violence in South Sudan have crossed into neighbouring countries, including Uganda and Sudan (AP)

Most of the South Sudanese who escaped the violence, which has killed an estimated 10,000 people have settled in the Uganda’s Adjumani district of the Western Nile region, as well as other parts of the Northern Uganda.

The UN estimates that there are over 82,000 South Sudanese who have been displaced to Uganda due to the current conflict, which has caused a further 60,000 to flee to Ethiopia, 20,000 to Kenya and almost 40,000 to Sudan.

Over 705,800 people have been displaced within the country, according the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in South Sudan.

South Sudanese refugees who Sudan Tribune has spoken to express deep fear of returning home after witnessing what they describe as ethnic cleansing.

In old Kampala police station a massive number of South Sudanese walk in everyday to seek for protection under asylum registration, including Broky Ruei and his family who are waiting for the status as asylum seekers to be approved.

Ruei says he fled into Uganda for safety after the alleged coup attempt on December 15 and the violent response by the security services. Human rights groups say that members of the Nuer ethnic group - the same as the South Sudan’s former vice president Riek Machar who denies attempting to seize power - in days after the fighting between soldiers from the presidential guards began.

South Sudan’s government has admitted that over 100 soldiers and security personnel have been arrested in connection with the violence, which triggered mutinies by Nuer commanders in other parts of the country.

Dinka civilians have been targeted in other parts of the country most notably in Bor the capital of Jonglei state, allegedly by forces aligned to Machar, who is now leading a rebellion against the government.

"You see when war broke out on 16 December 2013 in South Sudan, it was not only forcing me move out of South Sudan. I experienced a very terrible situation [in] which I saw my relatives my good friends are dying on the streets and they were humiliated and brutally killed, I have no choice than to run away for my safety”, said Ruei.

Ruei says that South Sudanese who were forced to flee were given no choice.

“It was not my wish in the first place to be a country-less man; it was the situation that forced me to come out from there."

He said that he would only be able to return if the was "meaningful and true change in South Sudan".

Douglas Asiimwe a senior protection officer in the department of refugees at Uganda’s Office of Prime Minister (OPM) says the government has set aside free land for refugee settlements in northern Uganda.

“We are settling them land in West Nile, in Adjumani we are working with the local communities and we like to thank so much, the district the local government of Adjumani district and the elder at the community who are availing land voluntarily to government to help in settling South Sudanese and use this land for the time they will be here”, said Asiimwe.

Asiimwe says the urban refugee settlements in towns like Kampala is a challenging problem in terms of providing assistance and identifying them.

"Therefore we provide them with documentation and identification that they are refugee legally in the country”, the refugee protection officer told Sudan Tribune.

Asiimwe said that the presence of so many refugees in Uganda had negative impact on the economic situation and the environment as "people are cutting trees, wood logs and firewood for construction."

Teak David a South Sudanese in Kampala says he was forced to flee to Uganda to seek safety after a war broke out in his country of South Sudan, adding that it had not been his "intention was not to live in Uganda because there is no place like home".

David says he would return home if there is a peaceful settlement of the current crisis that has killed an estimated 10,000 people. The main problem of being an asylum seeker is that he is not allowed to work, he said.

South Sudanese need to reject tribalism and stop blaming each other for the position the country is in.

"If I would have a chance to meet those people I will also preach to my people, I will not talk to Dinka you kill Nuer or Nuer you kill Dinka whatever or those tribes are involved, No!”, added David.

Many South Sudanese asylum seekers say that although life in Uganda is good, they stand to loose their jobs if they do not return quickly to South Sudan.

(ST)

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  • 15 March 10:29, by Mapuor

    Just see what has happened.We continuously warned coup plotters that the environment was not totally conducive for the change of leadership.Kiir did not do any mistake,more over,war time grudges were still haunting tribes that were killed by Nuers on their way to Ethiopia.Wisdom is indeed better than knowledge.This war is now proven to be internecine affecting Dinkas,Nuers and Cholo badly

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    • 15 March 10:32, by Mapuor

      Those who have outlets are better than those who do not have outlets.Nuers of Jikeny have fled to Ethiopia together with Lou Nuer.Dinka Padang and Chollo have fled to Sudan.Nuers who were in Equatoria and Dinka Bor fled to both Kenya and Uganda.Just think of Nuers of Bentiu!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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      • 15 March 10:36, by Mapuor

        Yaa Riek Macar,what have you done to your poor Nuers of Leer who are now feeding on waterlilies without any out lets to foreign countries.Lou Nuers and Jikeny are finishing your people,Kong and wang Chok are finishing your people.Gadet is from Bul and bul people are now ok.Just surrender and let South Sudanese rest or go to London to finish your remaining days there.

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        • 15 March 10:40, by Mapuor

          Kiir Mayardit will rule for long because he cares for all South Sudanese.Just see how he gave out all important positions to all other states depriving his region and especially his states of it proportionate share.

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          • 15 March 14:34, by Mayom County Boy

            To:Mapour.why
            your dinka kingdom people are flee to abroard ? Look dinka of Bor are
            flee to kenya.those of Parieng county in Unity state Bentiu run to
            khartoum.even those who are juba resident flee to kampala for which
            reason ? You are the people who are killing nuer why you like to flee
            out from country ?

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    • 15 March 14:19, by Johndumo14

      Why do you worry so much about 70 thousand South sudanese run into Uganda?
      These are only Nuer families of those rebels killing people in S.Sudan.Let them run we don`t need them,even if they don`t come back,we don`t need trouble maker.
      More will run soon from Nasir to Ethiopia,the gov.troops are on the move,let them ru even if they run in millions,to give us a Space and Peace of mine!!!!!

      repondre message

  • 15 March 10:57, by Black Africa

    I don’t understand this guy Salva Kiir,he has screwed up our beloved country. Before we were blaming Arabs, but now Salva Kiir regime has become the number one enemy to our beloved citized. Look how our innocent people are suffering I can’t believe that.

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  • 15 March 16:15, by Kim Deng

    When the Mighty Nuer Warriors declare "Kac-lora," coward Jaang/Slaves evacuate their land and move to refugees’ camps in Uganda and Kenya. Shame on coward Jaang/Slaves!!!!!!!!!

    repondre message

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