S. Sudanese conflict drives more unaccompanied children flee into Ethiopia


By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

July 5, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has recorded rising flow of South Sudanese refugees into Ethiopia including large numbers of unaccompanied children fleeing conflict from the youngest nation.

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Ethiopia has witnessed a huge influx of South Sudanese refugees since conflict erupted in the young nation in December 2013 (AFP)

According to UNHCR, over 19,000 unaccompanied or separated children have arrived in Ethiopia since the outbreak of South Sudan conflict in mid-December 2013.

The UN’s refugee agency also say South Sudanese continue to arrive in Ethiopia’s Gambella region at a daily average rate of 209 people crossing via main points of Akobo, Pagak and Pochalla.

The total number of new arrivals from South Sudan since eruption of conflict has now reached 211,214, including 208,079 in Gambella and 3,135 in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region near Assosa.

The UN refugee agency said 90% of the arrivals in to Ethiopia are women and children with19,349 of them unaccompanied or separated children.

The cumulative figure of the South Sudanese refugee population in Ethiopia has now reached 275,639, including 64,425 refugees that were in country pre-December 2013.

Following government approval of Pugnido II as the 6th camp site in Gambella, UNHCR and the Ethiopian local refugee agency ARRA with input from partners, have come up with a draft accountability Matrix assigning responsibilities to the different partners.

The draft Accountability Matrix has been shared with partners for their inputs before it is finalized.

UNHCR distributed core relief items to all the 6,342 refugees at the Pagak entry point; 3,939 of them are awaiting relocation to Pugnido II while the remaining 2,403 need to undergo Level I registration prior to their relocation.

According to UNHCR, the conflict in South Sudan has displaced an estimated 800,000 children with some 13,000 reported to have been recruited by the two rival factions.

Ongoing violence in South Sudan has killed tens of thousands and forced over two million to flee home.

South Sudan Peace talks will resume later in July in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa under a new IGAD plus initiative which will incorporate the African Union, the UN, EU, China, the Troika (UK, US, Norway) as well as five African countries (South Africa, Nigeria,Algeria, Chad, and Rwanda).

The two SPLM conflicting factions are expected to sign a comprehensive peace agreement in the upcoming fresh peace negotiations to end the over 18 months long conflict in South Sudan.