Over 70,000 S. Sudanese seek asylum

South Sudan refugees at Elegu border post in Adjumani District recently. PHOTO BY STEPHEN OKELLO

More than 77,000 South Sudanese refugees are registered in Uganda as asylum seekers according to the Office of the Prime Minister. The majority of them are believed to have fled the conflict that began in Juba, the South Sudan capital, mid-December last year and spread to other parts of the country.
Thousands of refugees fleeing violence in South Sudan have crossed into neighbouring countries, including Uganda and Sudan.

“I have just concluded an on-spot check in the refugee camps in Arua, Koboko and Ajumani districts. We have so far registered 77,500 South Sudan refugees seeking political asylum. International agencies are on ground. They responded to an appeal I made three weeks ago but the biggest challenge is education of children in these camps,” State minister for Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru said in an interview yesterday.

Most of the South Sudanese who escaped the violence, which has led to the death of an estimated 10,000 people, have settled in Adjumani District. The UN estimates that more than 82,000 South Sudanese refugees have fled to Uganda due to the current conflict pitting President Salva Kiir against former vice president Riek Machar, whom he accuses of attempting a coup against his government.

A further 60,000 have fled to Ethiopia, 20,000 to Kenya and about 40,000 to Sudan.
More than 705,800 people have been displaced within the country, according the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

South Sudanese had been going to Old Kampala Police Station to apply for asylum but the service has since been transferred to refugee camps in Kiryandongo, and West Nile. When the Daily Monitor visited Old Kampala Police Station, a notice of transfer of service was pinned on the noticeboard with a heading: ‘Closure of registration of South Sudan asylum seekers in Kampala’“You are advised to go and register in Kiryandongo, Rhino Camp (Arua) or Ajumani Refugee Settlement where the process is faster,” the notice read.

However, the registration of Somali refugees was still going on.