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UNHCR: Over 14,800 South Sudanese flee into Kenya

07 February 2014, 08:07

Nairobi - An estimated 14,800 South Sudanese refugees have fled into Kenya's camp due to fighting in the world's youngest nation as the daily arrivals begin to slow down, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday.

A brief report from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said a total of 242 new arrivals were received from Nadapal border point on Wednesday.

"This is a significant decrease from yesterday's (Tuesday) figure of 470. It is not clear what is causing the fluctuation of the daily arrivals," UN refugee agency said.

The fighting broke out when simmering tensions boiled over in the wake of a political dispute between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir's forces and those of former deputy president Riek Machar in mid-December.

Thousands of people are believed to have been killed and around 900,000 have been driven from their homes since fighting on December 15, 2013, according to UN. The conflict has sent another 123,000 fleeing to neighboring countries.

Both sides signed a ceasefire agreement mediated by the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa last month.

The next round of peace talks are scheduled to resume in Addis Ababa on Feb. 10 and the regional bloc, IGAD, has sent out invitations to both warring parties including the released political detainees to attend.

According to the UNHCR, close monitoring of the daily arrivals has been ongoing since the influx began. "This brings the total number of asylum seekers received to 14,809," it said in the report.

The UN refugee agency said the total Kakuma refugee camp population currently stands at about 142,250 amid plans to open a new camp to cater for the increasing population.

"The need to establish another camp is becoming more imminent as we are fast reaching the 25,000 capacity of the new site in Kakuma 4 and the overall threshold capacity of 150,000 individuals for the entire camp," the UNHCR said.

Kenya and the UNHCR have set up a refugee reception center along the Kenya-South Sudan border 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 the Kakuma refugee camp.

This crisis has forced many of the civilians to flee their country and seek refuge in the neighboring countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia.

According to the UN, about 80 percent of the total population of the South Sudanese refugees at Kakuma refugee camp is youths, 13 percent comprising women and the elderly, with 7 percent being old men.

- Xinhua

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