South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has described the mass departure of people to neighbouring Uganda as a conspiracy against the government using social media.
He told the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle in an interview last week that people were told to run away or be killed.
“The people who ran to Uganda were chased away by social media. There was no fighting in that area … People were called from their houses and told to run away, that if you don’t go after one hour you would be a dead person,” he said.
“They were told to leave because they know a UN official came in to assess the humanitarian situation to decide if there was need for assistance. Instead, he went and reported that there was a looming genocide in South Sudan, which has not happened up to now,” he added.
The people who ran to Uganda were chased away by social media. There was no fighting in that area ... People were called from their houses and told to run away, that if you don't go after one hour you would be dead.
This remark followed a report by the United Nations which said the South Sudan refugees in Uganda had passed the 1 million mark with an average of 1,800 South Sudanese arriving in Uganda every day over the past 12 months.
The report added that the recent arrivals had spoken of “barbaric violence, with armed groups reportedly burning down houses with civilians inside, people being killed in front of family members, sexual assaults of women and girls, and kidnapping of boys for forced conscription”.
President Kiir was asked if the report is what mislead the people. He responded in the affirmative and said it was conspiracy by some people against his government.
He refused to name the alleged conspirators.
South Sudan has been ravaged by civil war since 2013, after President Salva Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar, who is currently leading the armed opposition.
The conflict has killed thousands of people and driven more than 2 million from their homes with another two million people estimated to be internally displaced.
Over a million South Sudanese refugees are being hosted by Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.