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UN say conflict, hunger uproot 700,000 South Sudanese in 2017

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- About 700,000 people were forced to flee South Sudan in 2017 as refugees to neighboring countries due to conflict, hunger and disease, the UN humanitarian agency said on Thursday.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said nearly 4 million people have been displaced, including over 1.9 million internally displaced and over 2 million who have fled as refugees to Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“The number of South Sudanese forced to leave their country in 2017 is slightly lower than the 760,000 people who left in 2016,” the UN agency said in its latest bulletin released in Juba.

According to OCHA, over 70 percent of the 700,000 fled in the first half of 2017, which saw multiple military offensives in Upper Nile, Jonglei, and the Greater Equatoria region.

According to the report, majority of those uprooted crossed into Uganda in the first half of 2017 following increased hostilities in East, Central, and Western Equatoria.

“Uganda now hosts over one million South Sudanese refugees; of those more than 85 percent are women and children,” said the UN.

It said the number of South Sudanese living in six refugee camps in northern Uganda rose to 1.03 million in October, but dropped to 986,000 by the end of December.

Others crossed to Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the DRC and Central African Republic (CAR), which are hosts to more than one million South Sudanese refugees.

Citing partners in the region, OCHA said security concerns were mainly fueled by fear of indiscriminate killings, ethnically motivated attacks, torture, looting and burning of homes, and forced recruitment of young people by armed groups in South Sudan.

“Families crossing the border have cited the security situation, hunger, and disease as the primary driving factors,” said the UN.

Many travelled on foot for several days through the bush, afraid of militant groups and roadblocks on main roads to the border.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel chief Machar led to split within the SPLA, leaving soldiers to fight alongside ethnic lines.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the conflict was weakened after outbreak of renewed fighting in July 2016 caused the SPLA-in opposition rebel leader Machar to flee the capital.



UN says 95 aid workers killed in South Sudan in four years

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Some 95 aid workers have been killed in South Sudan since the beginning of the crisis in December 2013, the UN humanitarian agency said on Thursday.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said humanitarian access incidents reached new high in 2017 which saw 28 aid workers killed.

“In 2017, 1,159 humanitarian access incidents were reported by aid agencies in South Sudan. This is the highest number of incidents in a year, representing a significant increase, compared to 908 in 2016 and 909 in 2015,” OCHA said in its latest Humanitarian Bulletin released in Juba.

The UN said the incidents included killing of aid workers, robbery, looting and threats or harassment, mostly affecting Juba, Rubkona and Wau counties.

During the period, aid agencies also reported at least 61 looting incidents in multiple locations in the country in 2017, with significant loss of supplies and assets.

“Other humanitarian access constraints, including active hostilities, bureaucratic/administrative impediments, operational interference and restriction of movement, increased in 2017,” said the UN.

It said active hostilities and violence against personnel continued to impact humanitarian operations, with 612 aid workers relocated in 54 incidents from multiple locations across the country in 2017.

“More than half of the relocations occurred in Koch, Leer and Mayendit (Unity) and Akobo (Jonglei), where over half a million people were in need of assistance and protection in 2017,” it said.

South Sudan has been embroiled in more than three years of conflict that has taken a devastating toll on the people.

According to the UN, South Sudan has become a hostile environment for aid workers to operate. In March, gunmen killed six aid workers on a road linking the capital Juba to the Eastern state of Boma.

Under international Humanitarian Law, intentional attacks against humanitarian relief personnel may constitute war crimes.



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