Fighting spreading to new areas of S. Sudan

Saturday January 23 2016

Displaced people in a camp in Bentiu, South Sudan, on April 22, 2014. AFP PHOTO

Refugees are pouring into Uganda from the South Sudanese capital Juba and from previously peaceful parts of the country, a United Nations agency reported on Wednesday.

The displaced South Sudanese are fleeing violence on the part of militias that are looting villages, torching homes, sexually assaulting women and forcibly recruiting young men into their ranks, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said.

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“If you don’t have anything they kill you,” the refugee agency quoted a source identified as Cicilia as saying.  

“They rape the young women, and others they take to be their wives. The situation is really bad and it’s getting worse.”

Cicilia spoke to refugee workers in Adjumani, the northern Uganda town where she and hundreds of other South Sudanese have sought safety. She had fled to Uganda from Equatoria, a southern part of the country that had been comparatively peaceful until recently.


New fighting has also been reported in areas of South Sudan that have been worst affected by the civil war that started in December 2013. It is feared that the peace agreement signed in August after protracted negotiations is now falling apart.

More than 6.000 refugees have crossed into northern Uganda in the past three weeks, the UN agency said. And their numbers are increasing rapidly, straining the resources available to a total of some 115,000 South Sudanese refugees who have entered Uganda in the past two years.

“Around three-quarters of the new arrivals are women and children under the age of 18, presenting particular challenges in providing adequate education, child protection and preventing sexual and gender-based violence,” said UN refugee agency protection officer Akiko Tsujisawa.  

“Many of the kids are having to take care of younger siblings after losing their parents in the conflict.”