Number of South Sudan refugees passes one million: UN
Sept.18, Geneva: As instability and violence persist in the world’s newest country, the number of South Sudanese seeking safety and shelter in neighbouring countries has crossed the one million mark, the United Nations refugee agency said.
“Most of those fleeing South Sudan are women and children,” Leo Dobbs, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told the press at a regular briefing held at the UN Office at Geneva.
“They include survivors of violent attacks, sexual assault, children that have been separated from their parents or travelled alone, the disabled, the elderly and people in need of urgent medical care,” he added, noting that more than 185,000 people fled the country since fresh violence erupted in the capital, Juba, in early July, just ahead of the fifth anniversary of the country’s independence.
According to the agency, with this sombre milestone, South Sudan is now the fourth country in the world with more than one million refugees. The other three are Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.
In terms of numbers, Uganda (373,626) accounts for the largest share of South Sudanese refugees. More than a third of them arrived since the most recent violence broke out. Ethiopia (292,000) and Sudan (247,317) are the second and third largest hosts to people fleeing South Sudan.
Smaller numbers have also fled to Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR), since July. About 300 people a week have been crossing into Kenya, which now has over 90,000 South Sudanese refugees. Some 40,000 refugees are estimated in DRC.
The UNHCR spokesperson further reported that the new arrivals spoke of increased fighting and attacks by armed groups that kill civilians, loot villages, sexually assault women and girls, and recruit young boys.
“Many refugees arrive exhausted after days walking in the bush and going without food or water. Many children have lost one or both of their parents, some forced to become primary caregivers to younger siblings,” he noted.
The Oslo Times International News Network