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As South Sudan Fights, Refugees Flow Into Uganda

by Durrie Buscaren | Oct 23, 2016

One way to measure the growing turmoil in South Sudan is by the rapidly expanding refugee influx in neighboring Uganda.

A crowd of refugees press into a food distribution area at Pagirinya Refugee Settlement, one of the newest camps built to accommodate the latest arrivals in northern Uganda, just across the border from South Sudan.

Jonathan Taban, a father of six, explained that he's trying to see when he will receive food rations. He's been skipped twice now for a monthly allotment of grains, and he can't figure out why.

"I received food (in) July, emergency food for only 10 days. That is the last food I received, up to now," Taban said in late September. "Most of these people that are crowding there, they also missed food. They are trying to check their names."

A new round of clashes erupted this summer between government troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and fighters aligned with the former vice president, Riek Machar. Machar and his fighters had recently come back from exile as part of a peace process intended to end a conflict that began in 2013, just two years after South Sudan received independence.

The on-and-off fighting over the past three years has driven more than a million South Sudanese into other countries, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

On average, about 2,500 refugees — mostly women and children — are crossing from South Sudan into Uganda every day. Many are living in settlement camps, where resources are tight and some families are receiving only half of their normal food rations.

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