7 January 2014

Uganda Opening New Camps As South Sudanese Refugees Stream In

United Nations commander Moses Obi talking to displaced people in Jonglei state (file photo).

Almost 25,000 South Sudanese refugees have arrived in neighbouring Uganda since violence erupted there last month, pushing Uganda to open up new camps, the Ugandan Red Cross Society (URCS) said on Tuesday.

Around 2,000 South Sudanese are crossing the two main border points into Uganda's Adjumani and Arua districts each day, Catherine Ntabadde-Makumbi, communications director for URCS, said in a telephone interview.

Fighting broke out in South Sudan on Dec. 15, and clashes have spread across the country of nearly 11 million people, pushing it to the brink of civil war.

In three weeks, 189,000 people have been displaced inside South Sudan and 23,000 have crossed into neighbouring countries, according to the United Nations. It predicts that up to 400,000 people could be displaced if the fighting continues.

Uganda is the most popular destination for the refugees, with almost 25,000 arrivals since the crisis began, URCS said.

Many of the refugees are traumatised, tired and sick, Ntabadde-Makumbi said. Among the most vulnerable are 51 unaccompanied children and a further 160 children who were separated from their parents but travelled with other relatives.

"At Dzaipi Transit Camp, there are 16,265; at Elegu border about 3,500; in Arua there about 4,700," Ntabadde-kumbi said via email. "We anticipate the figures to reach 30,000."

Dzaipi is a transit camp about 30 kms (20 miles) from Elegu, on the border between Uganda's Adjumani District and South Sudan.

The existing refugee camps in the two districts are almost full so two new sites are being set up in Adjumani.

"Already the teams are starting to survey and demarcate one of the camps," Ntabadde-Makumbi said.

Once the new camps are open, Uganda will have the capacity to accommodate 50,000 refugees in the area.

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