The number of South Sudanese who have fled their conflict-ridden homeland for a neighboring country passed 1 million this week following renewed violence, the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said Friday.
Recently arrived refugees from South Sudan wait at the UNHCR Elego collection point in Northern Uganda.
The world’s newest country after attaining independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan is characterised by civil strife that has seen thousands flee to neighbouring countries.
Since the fresh violence in July, more than 185,000 people have fled the country, UNHCR said, adding that most of those fleeing were women and children.
“We will make sure that each of those allegations are challenged with a counter forensic and legal analysis of the shortcomings of this report”, Ateny Wek Ateny, spokesman for the president’s office, said.
Smaller numbers have been fleeing to Kenya, DRC and auto since the return to conflict in July.
The country now joins Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia in a league table of tragedy wrought by internal conflict.
Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic also have received tens of thousands of people fleeing.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir had ordered the reopening of the frontier with South Sudan on January 27 after years of tense relations between the two neighbours, including disputes over several border areas.
“If the government of South Sudan fails to fulfil this commitment, then the government of Sudan will close the border and also stop sending humanitarian aid to South Sudan”, he said.
The Sentry Group, founded by U.S. actor George Clooney and rights activist John Prendergast, alleged on Monday that President Kiir, Machar and those close to them had looted state coffers, accumulated luxury homes and cars, and enriched themselves and family members through stakes in oil and other business ventures.
“We urge President Salva Kiir to take all necessary steps to protect journalists in South Sudan and to ensure that their right to freedom of expression is not violated”, Angela Quintal of the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement in July.
The U.N. Security Council on September 14 held consultations on South Sudan’s ongoing crisis.
The report found that members of the families of both Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar live in “luxurious homes” outside South Sudan, including residences in an upscale neighborhood in Nairobi, Kenya.
Kamal Ismail, state minister of foreign affairs, told state-owned media that South Sudan had promised to expel insurgencies within 21 days during a visit by First Vice President Taban Deng Gai last month. It was released as the United Nations is threatening to impose an arms embargo against South Sudan’s government.