March 5, 2016 (JUBA) – An estimated 1.5 million refugees have fled the fighting and famine in South Sudan to its neighbouring countries, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Thursday.
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South Sudanese children play in Al-Alagaya camp in White Nile State, Sudan (Photo UNHCR)
Charlie Yaxley, a spokesman for UNHCR in Uganda, said the refugee agency estimated the total number of South Sudanese who fled to neighbouring nations at 1.5 million, with half of them said to be living in Uganda.
“We have already in the first two months of this year received 120, 00 new arrivals. If this rate of inflow continues actually that figure for 2017 will be far higher,” said Yaxley.
He, however, disclosed that with thousands of new arrivals every day, the refugee agency has already planned for 300,000 this year.
The world’s youngest nation formed after splitting from the north in 2011, declared famine in parts of Unity State, saying 100, 000 people face starvation and another million are on the brink of famine.
The UN refugee agency recently said tens of thousands of South Sudanese are expected to pour into Sudan in the months ahead.
Sudan already hosts nearly 330, 000 South Sudanese who have fled the civil war that erupted in their country in mid-December 2013.
The UNHCR and its partners have appealed for $166.65 million to meet the needs of South Sudanese refugees in Sudan this year, but have reportedly managed to raise just 5% of that target so far.
U.N agencies estimate that about 5.5 million people will have no reliable source of food by July.