Over 26,000 flee war-torn South Sudan to Uganda

Over 26,000 flee war-torn South Sudan to Uganda
More than 26,000 South Sudanese, mostly women and children, have crossed into Uganda since fighting in and around Juba erupted earlier this month, a UNHCR spokesperson has said.
2 min read
24 July, 2016
More than 90 percent of the refugees are women and children [AFP]
Nearly 26,500 people have fled South Sudan into Uganda since fighting erupted between rival forces in and around the capital city of Juba early July. 

"Thousands of people continue to flee uncertainty and fighting in South Sudan," Andreas Needham, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva.

More than 90 percent of those are women and children, he added.

On Saturday alone, an estimated 8,337 refugees crossed into Uganda, setting a single-day record since the influx began in 2016.

The influx is severely stretching the capacity of collection points, transit centres and reception centres, he said.

On Wednesday night, more than 7,000 people slept at Elegu collection point, significantly beyond its 1,000-person capacity.

Similarly, Kuluba collection point is hosting 1,099 refugees, compared to its 300-person capacity. Torrential rains are further hampering registration efforts, Needham added.

Reports from Magwi show that gunmen continue to loot properties, forcibly recruit boys and young men, and murder civilians.

Rebuilding peace

New arrivals in Adjumani reported that fighting was continuing between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and the SPLA in Opposition backing First Vice-President Riek Machar.

On Thursday, Kiir urged Machar, whose whereabouts are unknown, to return to Juba and help rebuild peace after a wave of violence threatened to plunge the country back into civil war.

"I am appealing to Dr Riek Machar to return back to Juba so that we can continue with the implementation of the peace agreement (which) ... needs the two of us to implement," Kiir said in a statement.

He said he pledged his "100 percent commitment" to ensuring Machar's security while in Juba.

"I will be expecting a response... within 48 hours so that we establish contact and continue building and promoting peace amongst our people now suffering because of this uncalled-for conflict," Kiir said.

However, Machar has refused until a neutral force  agreed in principle by the African Union  is deployed.

The unrest in the world's youngest nation left an August 2015 peace deal hanging by a thread.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the war first erupted in December 2015 when Kiir accused Machar, then his vice president, of plotting a coup.

More than two million people have also been driven from their homes in the conflict, which has reignited ethnic divisions and been characterised by gross human rights abuses. 

Agencies contributed to this report