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About 39,000 S. Sudanese flee into Kenya: UN

31 May 2014, 09:38

Nairobi - The number of new arrivals from South Sudan since mid-December 2013 when fighting broke out between pro-government and rebel forces in Juba has reached 39,000, according to the UN World Food Program (WFP).

WFP said in its latest report on Friday that compared to other neighboring countries, the refugee flow into Kenya has been fairly low in recent weeks.

"There are however indications that the inflow will increase as transport routes become accessible following the imminent end of the rainy season," WFP said in its regional cross border situation report.

The UN agency said the 'most likely' scenario in the Regional Inter-Agency Refugee Contingency Plan projects that 100,000 new refugees from South Sudan will have arrived by the end of 2014.

Political infighting between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Dr. Riek Machar turned into a full-fledged conflict in mid-December that has uprooted over one million people, including 75,000 and 80,000 civilians who have sought safety at UNMISS bases around the country for months since the violence began.

Despite the signing of the "Recommitment of Humanitarian Matters in the Cessation of Hostilities" at the beginning of May, the situation in South Sudan remains precarious as refugees from South Sudan continue to cross the border into neighboring countries. Since mid-December, more than 350,000 South Sudanese have arrived in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan.

WFP said it requires 76 million U.S. dollars for the next six months to meet the needs of all refugees in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Since mid-December, more than 108,000 South Sudanese refugees have arrived in Uganda as the main reception center in Adjumani district, Nyumanzi, is due for major repairs.

"WFP and other partners will support the exercise undertaken by UNHCR and the Office of the Prime Minister to relocate the 3,200 refugees that are currently in the center," it said.

The report shows that more than 131,000 South Sudanese refugees have crossed the border into Ethiopia since mid-December with the daily arrival rate remaining high at about 1,000 refugees per day.

"However, a recent multi-agency visit at Akobo Tergole shows that the arrival rate at this particular entry point has decreased significantly. As the situation in South Sudan remains precarious, preparedness measures remain in place in case of sudden developments," it said.

Meanwhile, top UN envoy in South Sudan announced Friday that she is stepping down from her post in July after leading the world body's efforts in the country for nearly three years.

Hilde F. Johnson, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) made the announcement in Juba, following a meeting with President Salva Kiir.

"I informed the President that I have come to the end of my term and I will be departing South Sudan. It has been a real honor to serve and I will be still here for a few weeks but South Sudan has a strong place in my heart and will continue to have that."

Johnson has been at the helm of UNMISS since the mission was established in July 2011, when the country gained its independence from Sudan.

The UN Security Council on Tuesday extended UNMISS until Nov. 30 and revised its mandate to give priority to the task of protecting civilians and to address the security, humanitarian and political crisis that has gripped the nation for the past six months.

 - Xinhua

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