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S. Sudan refugees continue to stream into Ethiopia despite truce

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

May 30, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Despite an agreement to implement a ceasefire recently signed in Addis Ababa between the two SPLM rival leaders, South Sudanese have continued to cross borders to Ethiopia in large numbers, the UN refugee agency told Sudan Tribune on Friday.

Kisut Gebregzabiher, UNHCR’s senior public information officer in Addis Ababa, said South Sudan refugees continue arriving in Ethiopia at a rate of 1,000 per day.

Gebregzabiher said despite the truce there was no any sign of decline in the influx of refugees instead the trend was continuing.

He added most of the newly arriving refugees were from Nasir area in Upper Nile state.

South Sudan president Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar on May 9 signed a landmark agreement where they committed themselves to an immediate cessation of hostilities cessation of hostilities in after a previous truce agreed in January collapsed shortly.

The latest peace pact calls on the two conflicting parties for an immediate cessation of hostility and for the formation of a transitional government prior to the drafting of a new constitution and new elections.

Sudan Tribune was told that the newly arriving refugees most women and children are fleeing war ravaged South Sudan in to Ethiopia in fear of ethnic targeted imminent attacks and looming food insecurity.

Last week, the UNHCR in its weekly report said the surge in the influx of South Sudan refugees to Ethiopia was due anticipation that the water level of Ethiopia’s Baro River which refugees cross by could rise soon due approaching rainy season making crossing very difficult.

As the number of refugees in Ethiopia rises, a number of Aid agencies are grappling to secure more resources in respond to the surging influx.

According to the UNHCR, Ethiopia is currently hosting over 130,000 South Sudanese refugees making the horn of Africa’s nation the region’s largest recipient of South Sudanese refugees.

Neighbouring countries of Uganda, Sudan and Kenya, follow the top recipients list by hosting 108,050, 84,687 and 36,880 South Sudanese refugees respectively.

UNHCR spokesman, Adrian Edwards, said on Tuesday that the number of internally displaced people in South Sudan has also saw a rise by 46,000 people since the cease fire agreement on 9 May, mounting the total number of IDPs to 1,005,096.

"Over the same period, the number of South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda has swollen by over 20,000 to 370,000 people," he said.

Fighting in the youngest nation erupted in mid-December between forces loyal to Kiir and those backing former vice president Machar.

The violence which quickly spread across the country killed tens of thousands of people and forced more than a million flee their homes.

The UN has accused both warring factions of committing crimes against humanity, including mass killings, gang-rape and other sexual abuses.

(ST)

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