More than 5,000 people have fled crisis-hit South Sudan into neighbouring Uganda since the latest outbreak of violence began on July 7, the UN said Tuesday, voicing fears that more could follow.
An estimated 90 percent of those who have crossed the border in recent days were women and children, the UN refugee agency said.
The latest wave of people are mostly fleeing from the southern state of Eastern Equatoria, with others coming from the capital Juba.
#South Sudan Evacuation, hundreds of Kenyans, Rwandans among those evacuated by UPDF
— Paddy Ankunda (@defenceuganda) July 19, 2016
A shaky ceasefire has held for over a week after the fighting that raged in the capital between soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir and troops backing the country’s Vice-President Riek Machar.
The new outbreak of violence has left hundreds dead and forced thousands to flee their homes.
— Arun (@SilentEon) July 9, 2016
“UNHCR expects more people to flee to Uganda,” the agency said in a statement, noting that the number of people now on the move had risen because the road between Juba and the Ugandan border had been cleared of checkpoints.
Amnesty International has warned that South Sudanese security forces were preventing people from leaving the country.
The London-based rights group said that two airlines had been ordered not to carry South Sudanese nationals, especially men.
The border with Uganda was previously closed on the South Sudan side, but official restrictions had been eased.
— Will Swanson (@willswanson) July 19, 2016
On Monday, African leaders agreed to deploy a protection force in South Sudan, giving them a more robust mission than the UN peacekeeping mission currently there.
Fears have risen of a breakdown in protracted efforts to end a civil war that began in December 2013, two years after the world’s newest nation formally gained independence from Sudan.