Uganda at ‘breaking point’ as South Sudan refugees pour in

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South Sudanese refugees queue for food at a reception centre in Arua, in northern Uganda. © UNHCR/David Azia

Uganda is at a “breaking point” as almost 3,000 South Sudanese refugees pour into the country every day, the United Nations refugee chief said Thursday. The U.N. has called it the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

A joint statement by Filippo Grandi and Uganda’s government says more than 570,000 refugees have arrived from South Sudan since July – and the number could pass one million by the middle of this year.

Uganda is hosting a total of 800,000 South Sudanese refugees who have arrived since the neighboring country’s civil war began in late 2013. More than 1.6 million have fled South Sudan overall.

The unprecedented surge in refugee arrivals has placed “enormous strain” on public services and infrastructure, Uganda’s Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said. Food and clean water are running short.

“We continue to welcome our neighbors in their time of need but we urgently need the international community to assist as the situation is becoming increasingly critical,” Rugunda said.

The joint statement says more than $250 million is needed this year to support South Sudanese refugees in Uganda.

“The lack of international attention to the suffering of the South Sudanese people is failing some of the most vulnerable people in the world when they most desperately need our help,” Grandi said.

Uganda’s refugee response has been recognized by the international community as one of the most progressive in Africa and is being used as a global model. Arriving refugees receive small plots of land in host communities to help support themselves.

©AP

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