South Sudanese refugees in Congo nearly doubled in September: UN
The number of South Sudanese refugees registered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo doubled in September, reaching 54,000, the UN says.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said in a report on Thursday that the number of registered refugees from South Sudan increased from 27,250 at the end of August to 53,974 at the end of September.
A UNHCR spokesman said it was unclear how much of the increase was accounted for by new arrivals.
This comes as heavy fighting continues to ravage South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation.
South Sudan has now surpassed Burundi to become the third-largest source of refugees in Congo, after Rwanda and the Central African Republic.
On September 16, the UN refugee agency said in a statement that fighting in South Sudan had forced more than one million people to flee the war-stricken country, adding that another 1.61 million people had been displaced inside the country.
The UN has appealed for more global aid to help address South Sudan’s refugee crisis
South Sudan gained independence in July 2011, but descended into war in December 2013, after President Salva Kiir accused the former vice president, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup to usurp power.
Numerous international attempts to reach a truce between the warring sides have failed.
South Sudan has experienced a new wave of conflict since July 8, when gunfire erupted near the state house in the capital, Juba, as Kiir and Machar were holding a meeting. More than 300 people were killed in the clashes.
On September 25, Machar called for war against the Juba government, saying he would “wage a popular armed resistance against the authoritarian and fascist regime of President Salva Kiir in order to bring peace, freedom, democracy and the rule of law in the country.”
Meanwhile, the exiled rebel leader said on Thursday that he could return to the country as early as next month, adding that a new political process is needed to revive a peace deal that has collapsed.
Kiir and Machar signed a peace deal on August 26, 2015 in order to put an end to violence in the country. The deal, however, collapsed less than a year after its conclusion in the wake of renewed fighting.