UNHCR decries surge in insecurity in South Sudan


The UN refugee agency expressed concern Friday over the deterioration of the security situation in South Sudan, especially the recent attack in the town of Pojok in the Eastern Equatoria region, forcing more refugees to flee for safety.

According to the UNHCR, people fleeing the recent incident claimed that the town came under an indiscriminate attack by the South Sudan armed forces.

“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,” the UNHCR said in a statement.

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

It said Uganda’s northern Lamwo district has received over 6,000 South Sudanese since Monday as 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,” the UNHCR said.

Uganda currently hosts more than 832,000 refugees from South Sudan. Some 192,000 have arrived in 2017 with an average of 2,000 refugees fleeing insecurity, violence and famine every day. Over 62 percent of the new arrivals are children.

The conflict has taken a devastating toll on the people of South Sudan as around 7.5 million people are in need of relief and protection, and the humanitarian crisis has deepened further with localized famine declared in parts of the country.

According to the UN, 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. The UNHCR said its funding appeal for South Sudan situation of 781.8 million U.S. dollars is only 11 percent funded.

It appealed 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. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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