UNHCR concerned over the deteriorating South Sudan situation

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Uganda. South Sudanese refugees in Bidibidi settlement

South Sudanese refugees carrying Core Relief Items walk down a road in Bidibidi refugee settlement, Yumbe District, Northern Region, Uganda.  © UNHCR/David Azia

UNHCR is alarmed at the ongoing deterioration of the security situation inside South Sudan as a recent attack in the town of Pajok in the Eastern Equatoria region is forcing more refugees to flee for safety. Uganda’s northern Lamwo district has received over 6,000 South Sudanese since Monday (April 3). Ongoing fighting is also reported in the districts of Magwi and Oboo - towns also close to the border.  This spreading of violence signifies a worrying development.

People fleeing the recent incident claimed that the town came under an indiscriminate attack by the South Sudan armed forces. Refugees report witnessing their loved ones shot dead at a close range, with many arrested or slaughtered, including children. Families fled in different directions; the elderly and disabled who could not run were shot dead. Many people are still hiding in the bush trying to find their way to Uganda, while homes and properties were looted and burned. Main roads out of the town are reportedly blocked by armed groups.

UNHCR staff in northern Uganda are helping desperate women, children, elderly, and the disabled. Refugees are in dire need of immediate humanitarian assistance including food, shelter, water and medical care.

Around 4,000 refugees immediately fled South Sudan in the after aftermath of the horrible attack on Pajok town, which has an estimated population of up to 50,000.

Uganda currently hosts more than 832,000 refugees from South Sudan. Some 192,000 have arrived in 2017 with an average of 2000 refugees fleeing insecurity, violence and famine every day. Over 62 per cent of the new arrival are children.

Some 1.7 million refugees have fled the world’s youngest country and the continuing brutal conflict, compounded by the limited availability of food could displace thousands more into South Sudan’s neighbourhood.  Within South Sudan itself, over 1.9 million people are internally displaced, from a population of under 12 million.

Though Uganda’s approach in dealing with refugees is among the most progressive, promoting self-reliance of refugees and their hosts, chronic under funding continues to affect relief activities. Host communities and humanitarian agencies are struggling to feed and shelter the arriving refugees and provide basic services. Supply of safe drinking water remains an urgent priority in the dry lands of northern Uganda where refugees are being hosted.

UNHCR continues to appeal to the international community for urgent and massive support for the thousands of South Sudan refugees in Uganda, Sudan (380,000), Ethiopia (356,000) and elsewhere in the neighbourhood. Our funding appeal for South Sudan situation of US$781.8 Million is only 11 per cent funded.

 

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