By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
June 22, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The number of South Sudan refugees crossing borders to Ethiopia to escape running conflict at home has saw sharp decline, a UNHCR official told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
UNHCR country representative, Bornwell Kantande, said the influx has went down from an average of 2,000 per day last month to 1,200 this week.
However he said South Sudan refugees are still crossing Ethiopia’s border in large numbers fleeing the fierce conflict that has continued for six months now.
He said newly arrivals were coming from South Sudan’s Jongelie and upper Nile state and are crossing borders via three entry points.
The lately arriving refugees according to Kantande are crossing to Ethiopia due security and lack of food and water.
The decline was noticed following the recently cessation of hostilities agreement signed between the two SPLM rival factions, South Sudan government and SPLM in opposition group.
Leaders of the two conflicting parties on 23 May recommitted themselves to completely halt fighting and to form transitional government within 60 days.
Approached by Sudan Tribune some diplomats in Addis Ababa however doubt the two sides would form a unity government in less than two months and fear a possible slide into full scale fighting considering the less commitment seen by both sides in implementing previously reached agreements.
The UNHCR official however said he doesn’t know if the decline in the huge influx of South Sudanese was due improved security situation attained following peace agreements.
He said the UN refugee agency was grateful for the Ethiopian government for opening its borders to the refugees and allowing aid agencies to operate freely.
He added UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF and other aid agencies required $ 200 million to assist the refugees till the end of this year.
Currently Ethiopia hosts 181,000 South Sudanese among whom 147,000 of them are those who fled to Ethiopia following the recent conflict.
South Sudan refugees are currently being sheltered at camps in Gambela region bordering South Sudan.
In the past few months Ethiopia was forced to open three new camps to cope up the increasing influx of refugees from the world’s youngest nation.