This month, the number of South Sudanese refugees has surpassed one million, according to the UNHCR. More than 185,000 people have fled after a violent strife that broke out in Juba on 8th July between supporters of President Salva Kiir and Reik Machar, the then-Vice President. Currently, South Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia are the countries from which more than one million refugees have fled.
South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011, but a civil war erupted just two years after when Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup. Since then, the situation has worsened, and subsequently the humanitarian funding for South Sudan has collapsed. In a country with 11 million people, 6.1 million are in need of humanitarian assistance, being threatened by famine.
Nearly 143,164 refugees from South Sudan have recently fled to Uganda, a country that hosts the second largest population of refugees in Africa; with Kenya hosting the most refugees in the continent. South Sudanese have also fled to western Ethiopia’s Gambella region, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sudan currently shelters the third largest number of South Sudanese refugees, with 247,317.
UNHCR field staff reported that South Sudanese refugees are being sheltered in school and churches. Those not accommodated there are forced to sleep in the open air. Moreover, women and children have experienced violent attacks and sexual assaults while they travelled, and lack food and basic necessities. Also, refugees near the city of Doruma (Haut-Uele province) were also attacked earlier this month; their few possessions were stolen and the health centre robbed by unknown attackers. With more than half of its population in need, South Sudan represents one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the world.