UN: 3,500 South Sudanese flee violence daily- UNHCR

New York, US (PANA) - The ongoing conflict in South Sudan has led to immense suffering and displacement, with an average of 3,500 people fleeing the country each day to neighbouring countries, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Friday.

In a statement obtained by PANA in New York, said the development has prompted the UNHCR, national authorities, and other humanitarian actors to race to create safe and humane conditions for arrivals, in which 90 per cent are women and children.

It stated: "People are fleeing South Sudan to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda, which has seen the greatest number of outflow, with 2,400 arrivals every day since early October and a quarter million new refugees since the re-eruption of violence in Juba that began on 7 July 2016."

UNHCR reported that most refugees are fleeing the Equatoria regions of South Sudan, which borders Uganda and is home to Juba.

"People leaving the region are reporting harassment by armed groups, killings and torture of people suspected of supporting opposing factions, villages set on fire, sexual assault of women and girls, and forced recruitment of young men and boys.

"As armed groups have prevented people from using main roads, refugees in recent weeks are increasingly using informal border crossing points.

Many have walked through the bush for days without food or water," it said.

The statement noted that, the Bidibidi refugee settlement in Uganda, opened only in August of this year, is now one of the largest refugee-hosting areas in the world and home to 170,000 South Sudanese refugees.

“Providing immediate, life-saving assistance, including food, water and shelter remains UNHCR’s key priority.

“But severe underfunding is hampering our efforts on the ground," it said.

It also cited challenges with water supply efforts in Bidibidi, as needs are quickly outpacing resources.

UNHCR said it was working to identify water sources for the camp, as water is currently being provided via trucks from a treatment plant 50 kilometres away.

It said that, in Ethiopia, Nguenyyiel, a new refugee camp that was opened on 20 October after existing camps became full, has the capacity to host 50,000 people.

"Shelter, water, and basic sanitation services are in place and 6,200 refugees have already been relocated to the new camp. 36,000 arrivals have been registered since the start of September and some 630 people continue to arrive each day.

"Those arriving in Ethiopia are typically from the Upper Nile region of South Sudan, where conflict and fear of renewed fighting have led them to flee their homes.

"Others from the Jonglei state, which is north of the capital, Juba, cited food shortages as their reason for leaving," the UN refugee agency stated.

It also said that, some 85 per cent of refugees leaving South Sudan are women and 65 per cent are children under the age of 18.

It added: "More than 1,300 unaccompanied children and 6,200 separated children have been registered in various camps throughout neighbouring countries."

Earlier this week, the UNHCR began to transfer an estimated 40,000 people from remote border areas. For now, refugees will be sent to Biringi, a site near the city of Aru in the northeastern province of Ituri. Two other sites have been identified, although the operation is facing major logistical challenges given the poor condition of roads.

An additional 4,000 refugees who moved on their own from the border to Meri in Haut-Uele Province have been provided with drinking water and basic services, and the World Food Programme began making distributions this week.

The goal for refugees in all sites is to supply them with plots of land, construction materials, household goods, and agricultural tools to help them become self-sufficient.
-0- PANA AA 4November2016

04 november 2016 22:05:13

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