South Sudanese refugees in Uganda hit one million

THURSDAY AUGUST 17 2017 | By Daily Monitor

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Women and men prepare a meal for South Sudan refugees in Pagirinya Refugee Settlement in Adjumani. The number of South Sudanese refugees hosted in Uganda has reached one million. Photo by Edgar R. Batte

KAMPALA-The number of South Sudanese refugees hosted in Uganda now stands at one million, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

But with no end in sight to the political crisis back home that is fuelling the refugee influx, UNHCR has warned that “the amount of aid we are able to deliver is increasingly falling short.”

The agency’s communications manager in Kampala, Charlie Yaxley,  said over  the past 12 months, an average of 1,800 South Sudanese have been arriving in Uganda every day.

“In Uganda, more than 85 per cent of the refugees who have arrived there are women and children (below 18 years of age). Recent arrivals continue to speak of barbaric violence, with armed groups reportedly burning down houses with civilians inside, people being killed in front of family members, sexual assaults of women and girls, and kidnapping of boys for forced conscription,” Mr Yaxley said in a Thursday statement. “In addition to the one million refugees in Uganda, one million or even more South Sudanese refugees are being hosted by Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic.”

Since December 2013, when South Sudan’s crisis erupted following a fall-out between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar, more than two million South Sudanese have fled to neighbouring countries, while another two million people are estimated to be internally displaced.

President Museveni, under the auspices of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development, is leading the process to broker a solution to the conflict following a failed previous peace pact mediated by the same regional bloc.

President Kiir’s government and some rebel factions in South Sudan have signed a preliminary document to build confidence among warring groups following back-to-back meetings in Uganda with President Museveni.

The UN says the renewed war has pushed some 6.1 million people, half of the country’s population, to the brink and in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.  A total 2.3 million have fled their homes, including 1.6 million internally displaced people.

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