South Sudan is Africa’s largest refugee crisis, third worldwide – UNHCR


South Sudan is Africa’s largest refugee crisis and the third largest in the world after Syria and Afghanistan, the U.N. refugee agency reports.

More than 1.5 million people have fled the world’s youngest nation into neighbouring countries due to the violence, with the United Nations estimating the number of those rendered homeless in South Sudan to be more than3.5 million.

The conflict in South Sudan erupted in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his then deputy Riek Machar of plotting to overthrow his government. Machar denied the allegations but went on to mobilize a rebel force to fight the government.

A peace deal signed in 2015 has continually been violated by bot factions, the latest being a flare-up in the capital Juba in July 2016. President Kiir’s forces clashed with those of Machar who had returned to Juba in April to take up the position of first vice president.

Machar fled the country and is in exile in South Africa. He was replaced by Taban Deng-Gai as first vice president.

UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said more than 760,000 people fled across borders after the July fighting.

“More than 60 percent of the refugees are children, many arriving with alarming levels of malnutrition — enduring devastating impact of the brutalities of the ongoing conflict,” he said.

An average of 63,000 people were forced to leave the country every month. Some half-a-million had to flee in the last four months since September 2016.

The United Nations has warned of the possibility of the situation in South Sudan escalating into genocide if an intervention is not carried out soon enough.