Ethnic clashes among South Sudan refugees in Uganda leave 3 dead, 6 injured: UN

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FILE PHOTO: South Sudanese refugees displaced by fighting, receive food rations in Imvepi settlement in Arua district, northern Uganda, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/James Akena/File photo
FILE PHOTO: South Sudanese refugees displaced by fighting, receive food rations in Imvepi settlement in Arua district, northern Uganda, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/James Akena/File photo

The United Nations refugee agency on Sunday said three South Sudan refugees in Uganda were killed, six injured and hundreds displaced after tribal clashes erupted in Palorinya refugee settlement, in the northwestern district of Obongi.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office here said in a statement that the clashes between the different South Sudanese tribes began on July 13 over the theft of crops in Dama village.

The UNHCR said over 280 shelters were set ablaze, forcing families to flee to neighboring primary schools, local administration offices and a police station for safety.

The refugee agency said although the clashes have stopped since last Wednesday, the situation remains tense. Thirty people have been arrested and are currently in custody at Obongi district police station, according to the statement.

“We are saddened by this tragic and senseless loss of life,” said Joel Boutroue, UNHCR Representative to Uganda. “UNHCR presents its deepest condolences to the families of the deceased.”

The refugee agency said a temporary safe shelter was opened at Palorinya reception center where 762 refugees displaced by the inter-community violence are receiving assistance. Nearly 80 percent of the displaced refugees are children.

The Ugandan police, according to the UNHCR, has deployed additional personnel in the refugee settlement to ensure the safety of the refugees sheltering at the reception center and to prevent further violence.

There are also ongoing reconciliation efforts and community sensitization to pave way for the return of the displaced populations back into their communities, according to the statement.

“It is critical that the refugee representatives exercise strong leadership and act as ambassadors of peace and inter-community dialogue,” said Boutroue.

Uganda hosts over 1.4 million refugees, with South Sudanese nationals making up more than 65 percent of the refugee population, according to UNHCR figures.

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