July 17, 2016 (JUBA) – The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said it expects the number of South Sudanese refugees in East Africa to exceed a million this year, and urged on armed groups to allow safe passage for people fleeing due to the latest fighting.
- IDPs shelter near the UNMISS base in Wau (IOM/Gonzalez 2016)
The agency says it requires up to $700 million in aid to help it cope with the influx of South Sudanese fleeing the violence to neighboring countries.
At least 42,000 civilians have been displaced in the recent fighting that occurred in the South Sudan capital, Juba, a senior UN official said last week.
The head of the UN peacekeeping operation, Hervé Ladsous told the Security Council that 7,000 of those displaced were accounted for at the two UN compounds and the remaining about 35,000 were sheltering between the World Food Programme (WFP) compound, other non-governmental organisations and churches in the city.
He expressed concerns over potentials for the resumption of violence and spill over into others parts of the young nation.
On Wednesday, according to Ladsous, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was been able to conduct limited patrolling again to assess the security situation, the safety and security of personnel and assets at UN compounds.
The senior UN official, however, noted that securing freedom of movement remains an uphill battle as security forces limit the mission’s movement every step of the way.
He further urged the South Sudanese government to allow UNMISS and other humanitarian actors in the country freedom of movement and access to provide vital assistance to the civilian population.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia said it was ready to send more soldiers to strengthen the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.
"We’re more than willing to take on our part of responsibility in restoring calm in South Sudan," Getachew Reda, the spokesperson for the Ethiopian government told Reuters.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir told reporters in Juba last week that his country would not accept the deployment of additional peacekeepers in the young nation.