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Fighting forces over 37,000 South Sudanese to flee to Uganda

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Tuesday that the recent fighting in South Sudan has to date forced more than 37,000 people to flee the country to Uganda.

"This represents more refugee arrivals in Uganda in the past three weeks than in the entire first six months of 2016," Farhan Haq, the deputy UN spokesman, said at a daily news briefing here.

"The new arrivals in Uganda are reporting ongoing fighting as well as looting by armed militias, burning down of homes, and murders of civilians," he said.

Some of the women and children said they were separated from their husbands or fathers by armed groups, who are reportedly forcibly recruiting men into their ranks and preventing them from crossing the border, he said.

The humanitarian response to the influx of South Sudanese refugees is sorely lacking due to severe underfunding, with the inter-agency appeal being only funded at 17 percent so far, he added.

On July 25, an estimated 2,442 refugees were received in Uganda from South Sudan. Some 1,213 crossed at the Elugu border point in Amuru, 247 in Moyo, 57 in Lamwo and 370 in Oraba, UNHCR said, adding that another 555 were received at the Kiryandongo settlement.

The majority of arrivals — more than 90 percent — are women and children. People are coming from South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria region, as well as the capital Juba and other areas of the country.

UNHCR remains extremely worried about the situation. Daily arrivals were averaging around 1,500 just 10 days ago, but have risen to over 4,000 in the past week. Further surges in arrivals are a real possibility, the UN agency said.


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