Sudanese flee to Kenya and Uganda
Sudanese refugees escaping fighting and hunger are crossing into neighbouring Kenya and Uganda in higher numbers, with more than 500 arriving in Lokichokio, in north-west Kenya, during a single day this week. UNHCR staff in Lokichokio reported that the new arrivals are sick, weak and emaciated. One Sudanese child died on arrival in Kenya. Additional UNHCR staff and medical personnel from the International Rescue Committee were dispatched Tuesday from Kakuma, 125 km from the border, to assist with the new arrivals before they transfer to the camp there.
The refugees left the Ikotos, Keyala and Chukudum areas of Sudan's Eastern Equatoria province. Many said that the lack of rain had ruined hopes for the next crop. Although the new arrivals said more refugees were following, none was registered at the border on Wednesday. Two weeks ago, UNHCR Lokichokio had reported the arrival of around 400 Sudanese a week over the previous four weeks. Uganda has also witnessed an increase of Sudanese crossing to the Arua and Kitgum areas in recent weeks. During March, over 1,400 Sudanese refugees were registered by UNHCR in Uganda, mainly in Arua, forcing UNHCR and government authorities to reopen a transit centre in Keri. This figure is about 500 higher than the monthly average recorded in 1999. As with the Sudanese crossing into Kenya, around 60 percent of the recent arrivals to Uganda are under 18 years old.
There are already 200,000 Sudanese refugees in Uganda and 65,000 in Kenya. At the end of last year, almost 500,000 Sudanese refugees were registered with UNHCR offices in 57 countries.