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South Sudanese asylum seekers in Kenya rise to over 42,000

30 August 2014, 09:59

Nairobi - The number of South Sudanese asylum seekers in Kenya has risen to 42,410 as fighting continues in the world youngest nation, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.

The UNHCR said the numbers brings the total member of refugees at the Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya to 177,390 who have been registered as at Aug. 27, which is beyond the camp's 150,000 capacity.

"As at Aug. 27, Kakuma had received 42,410 asylum seekers from South Sudan. This brings the total camp population to 177,390," UNHCR said.

Political in-fighting between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, started in mid-December 2013 and has since turned into a full-fledged conflict that also sent nearly 100,000 civilians fleeing to UN mission bases around the country.

The ninth-month crisis has uprooted some 1.5 million people and placed more than 7 million at risk of hunger and disease. South Sudan has also experienced several bouts of violence in recent weeks.

Kenya and UNHCR have set up a refugee reception center along the Kenya-South Sudan border (Nadapal) to register the refugees fleeing ongoing fighting between the government and rebels in the world's newest state.

Due to the recent fighting in South Sudan, there has been heightened population migration in the past two weeks in Kakuma refugee camp.

Meanwhile, the agency said heavy rains pounded Kakuma early this week for several hours, causing previously dry river beds to overflow.

The UN refugee agency said culverts leading to the camp were flooded as a result, cutting off the entire camp for hours and causing staff from UNHCR and other agencies to be stranded.

"An urgent inter-agency coordination meeting was held and a quick assessment of the affected refugees was organized to establish the extent of damage caused by the floods so that immediate emergency interventions could be determined," it said.

According to the UN agencies, three refugees (Somali, South Sudanese and Burundian) died after drowning in the flooded rivers.

UNHCR said its Field Safety and police officers assisted the bereaved families to retrieve the bodies and transported them to hospital.

The refugee agency has requested 52 million U.S. dollars to provide emergency shelter to 100 households affected by rains.

UNHCR said part of the funds will be used to coordinate with UNICEF to source for BCG antigens and syringes, distribution of non food items to 200 households affected by floods and also to help identify access roads in the camp requiring improvements.

- Xinhua

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