New Settlement Camp Opened For South Sudan Refugees

By Samuel Ssebuliba

A new refugee settlement has been opened in Uganda as thousands of South Sudanese continue to flee every day.

The United Nations High Commission for refugees has opened a new settlement area in Arua district, which is to host new refugees arriving South Sudan.

The opening of Imvepi camp was decided after Palorinya settlement in Moyo district rapidly reached its 135,000 refugee-hosting capacity.

According to Mr. Charlie Yaxley the Spokesperson for UN Refugee Agency, this Imvepi settlement is expected to accommodate up to 110,000 new arrivals.

He adds that in the last two days alone, 2,000 South Sudanese refugees have been registered at the new camp.

On Thursday, the UN Refugee agency raised the red flag over the high rate of news arrivals of refugees in Uganda mainly due to hunger and the conflict in South Sudan.

Mr. Yarxley said in a statement issued to the media that over 9,500 South Sudanese refugees were received in Uganda between the 15th and 21st February, althouth this is a decrease from the over 13,000 new arrivals reported in the previous week.

 This brings the total new arrivals in February alone to 56,087.The average daily rate of new arrivals this week was 1,367.

Mr. Yarxley added that refugees arriving in Uganda, the majority of whom are women and children, report general insecurity, limited access to food and basic services, violence, rape and abuse of women and girls, as reasons for fleeing their homes in South Sudan.

This comes as Ethiopia and South Sudan jointly appeal for urgent international assistance to help at least 15 million of people facing starvation in the two countries. 

Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan while Ethiopia is facing yet another drought that has hit several countries in the East and Horn of Africa. 

Speaking in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile-mariam Desa-legn said countries in the region had agreed to share meagre resources in averting what he said was looming famine. 

For his part, South Sudan’s president said his government would allow safe passage for humanitarian assistance to reach millions that are facing starvation. 

Earlier this week the UN warned that the world needs to act quickly to avert further disaster in the world’s youngest nation.

In Uganda, all is not well either. The long dry spell has left an estimated 1.6m people in dire need of food.

The government needs Shs.52bn to tackle the food crisis but so far, only Shs.25bn has been raised after cabinet approved ministry budget adjustments.