South Sudan is slowly becoming an abandoned crisis area
While Uganda is welcoming the South Sudan refugees with open arms and helping resettle them, the question that begs and answer is, when will all this stop? The UNHCR says more than 1.5 million people have been forced to leave the country and seek safety since conflict erupted in December 2013, and an additional 2.1 million people are displaced inside South Sudan. Thousands of civilians have been killed, often because of their ethnicity or perceived political alliances in South Sudan’s ongoing conflict. Large parts of key towns and essential civilian infrastructure such as clinics, hospitals, and schools, have been looted, destroyed, and abandoned. Tens of thousands of people are still sheltering in United Nations compounds, too afraid to return home. Lack of accountability for decades of violence during Sudan’s long civil war helped fuel the conflict. Military and political leaders on all sides have failed to make any serious attempt to reduce abuses committed by their forces, or to hold them to account. With this large-scale displacement, South Sudan is now Africa’s largest refugee crisis and the world’s third after Syria and Afghanistan – with less attention and chronic levels of under funding. “We are appealing on all parties involved in the conflict for an urgent peaceful resolution of the crisis, without which, thousands continue to arrive in South Sudan’s neighbouring countries of Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the Central African Republic every day with the conflict now in its fourth year,” said UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler. Intense fighting broke out in South Sudan in July last year following the collapse of a peace deal between the government and opposition forces. More than 760,000 refugees fled the country in 2016, as the conflict intensified in the second half of the year – on an average of 63,000 people were forced to leave the country per month. Some half a million had to flee in the last four months since September 2016. More than 60 per cent of the refugees are children, many arriving with alarming levels of malnutrition – enduring devastating impact of the brutalities of the ongoing conflict. As the global displacement trends reflect, those fleeing South Sudan are being hosted by the poorest communities in the neighbouring countries, under immense pressure with scarce resources. The majority of the refugees are being hosted by Uganda, where some 698,000 have arrived. Ethiopia is hosting some 342,000, while more than 305,000 are in Sudan and some 89,000 in Kenya, 68,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 4,900 in the Central African Republic. A lasting solution has to be found to this problem, otherwise we shall see the end of the fragile peace in the region. Historically, South Sudan fought a battle for freedom against the oppressive Sudanese regieme which has since been accused of ethnic cleansing and other atrocities in the Darfur region. Several East Africa countries were involved in this battle for freedom and there was even help from other parts of Africa. When South Sudan finally gained her independence from Khartoum, there was a collective sigh of relief and the region hoped all would be well. Unfortunately, this is not the case.