Thousands of wounded, hungry South Sudan refugees flee to Uganda | News | DW | 26.12.2016
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Refugees

Thousands of wounded, hungry South Sudan refugees flee to Uganda

Aid workers say half-a-million refugees from volatile South Sudan continue to fill sprawling camps in northwestern Uganda. The UN Security Council decided against an arms embargo on Sudanese warring factions.

Refugees were still arriving in "critical condition" to seek shelter at UN camps in Uganda's remote northwestern bush lands with one-in-five children suffering from severe malnutrition, according to the latest reports.

The influx from South Sudan soared after a peace deal collapse last July during encounters in Juba between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar. Battles broke out between their armed supporters.

Refugees arriving at Ugandan border crossings often had "bullets remaining in their legs" and severe bleeding, Ugandan government nutrition specialist Rufaaaya Asiyati told the AP news agency. "Others have come with parts amputated.

Violence in southern hub

Refugees crossing into Uganda told of brutal violence, with unidentified gunmen killing, raping and arresting civilians based on their ethnicity in South Sudan's southern trading city of Yei.

A former municipal officer, Taban Jackson, now at Bidi Bidi, the largest of the camps in Uganda, said violations were widespread.

Arrivals into Uganda peaked at a daily average of 2,700 in the first half of November, according to the UNHCR. Water shortages at Bidi Bidi had been a "major issue."

Staff were overworked and unreliable power supplies often meant outages.

Earlier this month, Belgium allocated three million euros ($3.1 million) to the DR Congo and Uganda UNHCR country operations to address the South Sudan situation with up to a million refugees reported to be in need.

Genocide warning

Despite warnings by retiring UN chief Ban Ki-moon of a possible genocide in South Sudan, a vote in the Security Council on Friday fell short of the nine-vote majority it needed to pass. Only seven Council members voted in favor of the US sponsored resolution that had called for an arms embargo and targeted sanctions. Eight members abstained.

Russia accused Western nations of ignoring a "reconciliation" speech by President Salva Kiir on December 14. The US warned that an "unbearable price" would be paid by South Sudanese people because of UN inaction.

Ulrich Delius, a spokesman for the German branch of the Society for Threatened Peoples, described theUN Security Council vote outcome as a "free ticket for new crimes" in South Sudan.

Südsudan Krieg - Regierungssoldat (picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Lynch)

A South Sudan government soldier in Malakal

Three million displaced

In all, more than three million people have fled their homes in South Sudan, the world's newest nation created in 2011 through independence from Sudan.

The UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) said more than 1.3 million South Sudanese have sought refuge abroad - in Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

Inside South Sudan, some 1.8 million have been internally displaced, including 205,000 people who have taken shelter at UN civilian protection sites.

In August, the UN Security Council authorized an additional 4,000 troops from African nations for the more than 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in South Sudan. Currently, it includes 16 German Bundeswehr soldiers.

ipj/jm (AP, Reuters, AFP, KNA)

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