With no solution in sight, refugee numbers from South Sudan cross 1.5 million mark
UNHCR is extremely alarmed at the ongoing pace of displacement in South Sudan, where more than 1.5 million people have been forced to leave the country and seek safety since conflict erupted in December 2013. An additional 2.1 million people are displaced inside South Sudan.
They are appealing on all parties involved in the conflict for an urgent peaceful resolution of the crisis, without which, thousands continue to arrive in South Sudan’s neighbouring countries of Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the Central African Republic every day with the conflict now in its fourth year.
With this large scale displacement, South Sudan is now Africa’s largest refugee crisis and the world’s third after Syria and Afghanistan – with less attention and chronic levels of underfunding.
Intense fighting broke out in South Sudan in July last year following the collapse of a peace deal between the government and opposition forces. More than 760,000 refugees fled the country in 2016, as the conflict intensified in the second half of the year – on an average of 63,000 people were forced to leave the country per month. Some half a million had to flee in the last four months since September 2016. More than 60% of the refugees are children, many arriving with alarming levels of malnutrition – enduring devastating impact of the brutalities of the ongoing conflict.
Recent new arrivals report suffering inside South Sudan with intense fighting, kidnappings, rape, fears of armed groups and threats to life, as well as acute food shortage.
As the global displacement trends reflect, those fleeing South Sudan are being hosted by the poorest communities in the neighbouring countries, under immense pressure with scarce resources.
The majority of the refugees are being hosted by Uganda, where some 698,000 have arrived. Ethiopia is hosting some 342,000, while more than 305,000 are in Sudan and some 89,000 in Kenya, 68,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 4900 in the Central African Republic.