The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that more than one million people have fled the conflict in South Sudan and have taken refuge in neighbouring countries.
The agency’s spokesman in Geneva said that “The number of South Sudanese refugees sheltering in neighbouring countries has this week passed the 1 million mark, including more than 185,000 people who have fled since fresh violence erupted in the country in Juba on July 8.”
The agency’s spokesperson also explained that South Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia are countries that have produced more than a million refugees. Furthermore, 1.61 million people have been internally displaced.
There has been a civil war in South Sudan since December 2013 and fresh violence broke out recently in July.
The majority of refugees registered with the UNHCR crossed the border into Uganda (a total of 143,164 people), and others went to Kenya, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR).
South Sudan won its independence in July 2011 after its separation from Sudan following a civil war that lasted 25 years. However, the country was plunged into civil war in December 2013 and the war, along with the atrocities and massacres that have been carried out, have left tens of thousands of people dead.
The United Nations says that about five million South Sudanese people, who amount to a third of the population, suffer from “unprecedented” food insecurity.
South Sudan, along with Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia are among those countries that have produced more than a million refugees. About 185,000 people have fled the country since early July when violence erupted in the capital Juba.
In addition to the number of refugees, 1.61 million people have been internally displaced as a result of the violent power struggle that erupted in late 2013 between President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President Riek Machar.
UNHCR spokesperson Leo Dobbs said that “humanitarian organisations are finding it very difficult for logistical, security and funding reasons to provide urgent protection and assistance to the hundreds of thousands in need”. He added that “Most of those fleeing South Sudan are women and children. 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.”
Uganda alone hosts about 374,000 refugees from South Sudan. One third of these refugees have been arriving since July. Approximately 292,000 people fled to Ethiopia while Sudan is hosting 247,000 people who fled its southern neighbour.
The two sides of the conflict formed a unity government in April and Machar was appointed as Vice President. However, fighting broke out again in July and this prompted Machar to flee to Sudan.