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South Sudan refugees in east Africa likely to exceed 1 million, UNHCR warns

South Sudan refugees in east Africa likely to exceed 1 million, UNHCR warns

South Sudan

The number of South Sudanese refugees in East Africa could pass 1 million this year, and it calls on armed parties to allow safe passage for people fleeing the latest fighting, said the United Nation Refugee Agency.

UN refugee coordinator, Ann Encontre, said that there were concerns that the number of refugees fleeing the Africa’s youngest nation could rise. She has also appealed for $701 million aid to arrest the upcoming crisis.

The East African nation has had hundreds of thousands of refugees sheltering in Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and elsewhere since civil war began in December 2013 even before the violence resurged last week.

On Friday, dozens of Sudanese women and children arrived in Khartoum from Juba, as Sudan also began to evacuate its nationals from South Sudan, which split from the north five years ago.

Uganda had also deployed its military to help evacuate an estimated 3,000 Ugandans living in South Sudan. Several other foreigners also fled through Uganda.

Both president Salva Kiir and vice president Riek Machar earlier this week declared a ceasefire, but observers have warned that the violence could return.

The conflict has been characterized by horrific rights abuses, including gang rapes, the wholesale burning of villages and cannibalism.