August 2, 2016 (JUBA) - 60,000 people have fled South Sudan’s recent violence in the capital city of Juba, bringing to nearly 900,000 the overall number of South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring nations since December 2013, the United Nations refugee agency said.
- A woman carries water through a UN camp for internally displaced people in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state (Photo: IOM)
Refugee flows from South Sudan into Uganda have doubled in the past 10 days, bringing the total to over 52,000 since violence escalated early last month.
Kenya has reported the arrival of 1,000 refugees in the same period, while 7,000 have fled to Sudan, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees stated.
“The refugees bring disturbing reports that armed groups operating on roads to Uganda are preventing people from fleeing South Sudan,” Melissa Fleming, UNHCR chief spokesperson said.
The recent fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and the armed opposition allied former rebel leader, Riek Machar left over 270 soldiers dead in Juba.
New arrivals from Yei say they received letters warning them to evacuate the town in anticipation of conflict between rebel and government forces, the spokesperson said.
According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), refugees have also reported that armed groups operating across different parts of South Sudan are looting villages, murdering civilians and forcibly recruiting young men and boys in to their ranks.
Tension remains high in Eastern Equatoria, parts of Juba and the Upper Nile territories.
Fleming reminded all parties to the conflict in South Sudan of a fundamental human right to seek asylum and urging them to ensure that civilians are provided with unhindered access to safety as the number of refugees crosses a worrying milestone.
With over 2.6 million of its citizens forcibly displaced, South Sudan reportedly ranks among the countries with the highest levels of conflict-induced population displacement globally as an estimated half of the population rely on humanitarian aid.