The recent mass exodus fromSouth Sudan was spurred by renewed violence in the 5-year-old nation. Civil war engulfed the country amid fiercepolitical tensions in late 2013, and the collapse of a subsequent peace deal in July of this year caused the massive surge of people fleeing to Uganda ― more than 300,000 in the past four months, according to data from the United Nation’s refugee agency, UNHCR. In September, the total number of South Sudanese refugees surpassed 1 million.
“The fighting has shattered hopes for a real breakthrough and triggered new waves of displacement and suffering,” UNHCR spokesperson Leo Dobbs said. The vast majority of refugees are women and children, he added, and the conflict has internally displaced an additional 1.61 million people.
The humanitarian agency reports that many refugees have been attacked and sexually assaulted upon arrival in Uganda. Armed groups have blocked main roads, forcing refugees to walk through the bush without food or water for days on end.
Uganda is still rebuilding after a deadly civil war and decadeslong insurgency that has displaced millions of people. The Lord’s Resistance Army, a cult-like rebel group led by Joseph Kony, has carried out large-scale human rights abuses in northern Uganda, including mass murder, abduction and child slavery.