Uganda Faces Influx of South Sudan Refugees as Fighting Flares

Uganda is likely to receive thousands of South Sudanese fleeing renewed fighting, potentially straining resources in Africa’s third-largest host of refugees, the United Nations Refugee Agency said.

Aid agencies and Ugandan officials are relocating refugees from areas near the border to create space for new arrivals, Charlie Yaxley, spokesman for the UN agency in Uganda, said Monday by phone from the capital, Kampala.

Fighting between government forces and former rebels in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, has left hundreds of people dead over the weekend and raised the specter of a return to civil war in the oil-producing nation.

Uganda is home to more than 500,000 people fleeing regional unrest in countries  including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. South Sudanese refugees currently account for 235,000 of the total, according to Yaxley. A further influx will put pressure on funding for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda, which only covers about 10 percent of current needs, he said.

New arrivals fell from an average of 150 per day to 36 on Sunday, following reports that the border between the two countries was closed, Yaxley said. The agency is relying on reports from refugees as it doesn’t have official information from Uganda’s government.

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