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UN decry high number of refugees in South Sudan

September 12, 2017 (JUBA) - The number of South Sudan refugees fleeing the country’s civil war has hit the two million mark, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Tuesday.

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South Sudanese refugees in Gambela, Ethiopia (Photo: South Sudan Consul, Gambela)

OCHA, in a statement, said about half of South Sudanese refugees were in Uganda, adding that a deepening food crisis, exacerbated by increasing insecurity, poor rainfall and widespread crop failure made people to flee parts of the country in large numbers last month.

“Many refugees also fled to Sudan and Ethiopia,” said the agency.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011. Two years later, a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, escalated and spiraled into the violence that has since witnessed tens of thousands killed and millions displaced.

Meanwhile, over 83,000 South Sudanese refugees registered in Haut-Uélé and Ituri provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in August 2017, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said in a statement.

About 53% of the refugees consist of women and girls, according to the National Commission for Refugees and UNHCR, with at least 63% of the children said to be below 18 years.

To date, UNHCR has reportedly received only $6.5 million out of a total of $ 31.8 million meant for refugee assistance, further raising concerns about the insecurity at South Sudan’s border with DRC.

This security constraint is delaying the delivery of humanitarian assistance, the UN said, stressing that South Sudanese refugees’ sites in the villages of Sukpa, Masombo and Mogoroko were no longer accessible to humanitarian intervention due to the security situation.

(ST)