18 Aug South Sudanese refugees in Uganda exceeds a million: UN
August 17, 2017 (KAMPALA) – The number of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda has now exceeded one million, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said, amid calls for urgent additional support.
- South Sudanese refugees fleeing violence in their home country wait to be transported to Uganda’s Arua district settlement camp on 6 January 2014 (Photo: AFP/Isaac Kasamani)
Majority of the refugees, the agency said, are women and children.
“Over the past 12 months, averages of 1,800 South Sudanese have been arriving in Uganda every day,” UNHCR said in a statement.
“In addition to the million there, a million or even more South Sudanese refugees are being hosted by Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic,” it added.
According the UN agency, however, over 85% of the refugees who have arrived in Uganda are women and children below 18 years.
“Recent arrivals continue to speak of barbaric violence, with armed groups reportedly burning down houses with civilians inside, people being killed in front of family members, sexual assaults of women and girls, and kidnapping of boys for forced conscription,” said UNHCR.
As of refugees arrive, it said, aid delivery is increasingly falling short.
The UN agency underscored that although $674 million is needed for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda this year, so far only a fifth of this amount, or 21%, has so far been received.
Although a total of $883.5 million is needed for the South Sudan situation, only $250 million, according to UNHCR, has been received.
The funding shortfall in Uganda is now significantly impacting the abilities to deliver life-saving aid and key basic services, the UN said.
“In June, the World Food Programme was forced to cut food rations for refugees. Across settlements in northern Uganda, health clinics are being forced to provide vital medical care with too few doctors, healthcare workers and medicines,” UNHCR further explained.
CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has urged the international community to deliver and improve on existing financial commitments to help Uganda support the refugees it is hosting, following reports that one million South Sudanese are in the country.
The rights body, in a statement, said it documented evidence of unlawful killings, sexual violence, detention, torture, the purposeful destruction of private and public property, the use of food as a weapon of war and other serious human rights violations in South Sudan, which led to forced displacements into neighboring Uganda.
“This unhappy one-million milestone must serve as a wake-up call to the international community that much more is needed from them. With no resolution to the conflict in South Sudan in sight, refugees will continue to flee to Uganda and the humanitarian crisis will only escalate,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“While the Ugandan government, the UN and NGOs have done a commendable job, they are now struggling to meet even the most basic needs of South Sudan’s refugees, including food, water and shelter, let alone other needs such as psychosocial support for refugees who are deeply traumatized,” she added.
Since December 2013 when South Sudan’s crisis started, more than two million South Sudanese have fled to neighbouring countries, while another two million people are estimated to be internally displaced, statistics from the UN indicate.