UNHCR – UN High Commissioner for Refugees (Autor)
Following a recent attack on the town of Pajok in South Sudan, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency today expressed alarm at the deteriorating security situation in the country which has forced even more refugees to flee for their lives.
Uganda's northern Lamwo district has received over 6,000 South Sudanese since Monday (April 3), with at least 4,500 still crowded together at the border.
As well as the fighting near Pajok in Eastern Equatoria, ongoing fighting is also reported in the districts of Magwi and Oboo close to the border with Uganda, now the main host of the world's fastest growing refugee crisis.
"This spreading of violence signifies a worrying development. People fleeing the recent incident claimed that the town came under an indiscriminate attack by the South Sudan armed forces," UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch told a news briefing in Geneva.
Refugees have witnessed loved ones shot dead at a close range, with many others arrested and then killed, including children.
Auma Lucy Yubuan escaped and walked for two days.
"The soldiers were looting, breaking doors and beating people. They would arrest you and ask you to show them where the rebels are. But when you tell them you don't know, they beat you. They killed people," she told UNHCR.
She and her children ran in different directions, but found each other again at the border.
"I am so happy even though I have nothing to eat and I have lost everything, my children are alive. I was so scared I didn't know if I would see them again. The bullets were flying everywhere and you couldn't move, you had to lie on your belly. I am very grateful I am alive," she added.
Baloch said families fled the attack in Pajok in different directions; the elderly and disabled who could not run were shot dead. Many people are still hiding in the bush trying to find their way to Uganda, while homes and properties were looted and burned. Main roads out of the town are reportedly blocked by armed groups.
UNHCR staff in northern Uganda are helping desperate women, children, elderly, and the disabled. Refugees are in dire need of immediate humanitarian assistance including food, shelter, water and medical care.
Around 4,000 refugees immediately fled South Sudan in the after aftermath of the horrible attack on Pajok town, which has an estimated population of up to 50,000.
Uganda currently hosts more than 832,000 refugees from South Sudan. Some 192,000 have arrived in 2017 with an average of 2000 refugees fleeing insecurity, violence and famine every day. Over 62 per cent of the new arrivals are children.
Some 1.7 million refugees have fled the world's youngest country and the continuing brutal conflict. For more details, click here.