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Over 2,800 South Sudanese Refugees Flee to Uganda Following Heightened Fighting

Thousands of South Sudanese refugees mainly children have fled to Uganda following the intense fighting back home, the UN refugee agency has said.


According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in a statement on Sunday said during the last two weeks, 2,840 people from South Sudan sought safety and protection in Uganda.

This is an increase compared to the previous two weeks (2,254) and is line with the increased rate of new arrivals Uganda has been receiving since the start of the year, the refugee agency said.

"New arrivals are disproportionately young and female. In Kiryandongo, 91 percent of new arrivals are children under the age of eighteen and mainly female adults," it added.

Kiryandongo is one of the Refugee Settlements in Midwestern Uganda accommodating South Sudan refugees, among others.

UNHCR said intense fighting is being reported in Yambio and Jonglei while in other areas, militias are reportedly burning down villages, looting, destroying farms, kidnapping youths and committing acts of sexual assault.

The agency said some of the refugees are reporting having walked for days in order to reach safety.

UNHCR said a mass nutrition screening shows that new arrivals are presenting with increasing levels of malnutrition, particularly amongst children.

At the end of 2013, fighting erupted between troops loyal to South Sudan President Salva Kiir and those who paid allegiance to then Vice President Riek Machar.

The fighting forced thousands of South Sudanese to flee to neighboring countries.

Until recently, the fighting halted after a peace agreement between the rival parties but still many Sudanese continue to flee.

By Robert Muriisa.

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