JUBA, JULY 7, 2015(CISA) – The number of South Sudanese civilians sheltering in UN bases has risen above 150,000 for the first time in 18 months of civil war, the United Nations has said.
A total of 153,769 civilians are now seeking safety behind the barbed wire of six peacekeeping bases of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Many fled into the bases, which are spread across the world youngest nation as war broke out in December 2013 and have never left because they are too terrified to venture out for fear of being killed, AFP reported.
But tens of thousands more have entered the bases during an upsurge in fighting since April, taking those seeking shelter to the highest number yet.
According to official figures released by UNMISS, over 10,000 people have arrived in the past week alone.
Over 28,000 are based in the capital Juba, where aid workers are trying to stamp out a cholera outbreak that has killed at least 32 people since cases were first recorded last month, including inside the UN base.
Another 91,500 are sheltering in Bentiu, capital of the northern state of Unity, where a UN report last month described how South Sudan’s army raped then burned girls alive inside their homes during a recent campaign marked by “new brutality and intensity.”
Gunmen on July 5 shot and killed a civilian sheltering in the base, which the UN said may constitute a war crime.
More than 30,000 people are also in the UN base in Malakal, capital of the North eastern Upper Nile state.
Civil war began when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of planning a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings across the country.
According to the UN, over 730,000 South Sudanese are refugees in neighbouring nations Ethiopia hosts the majority, followed by Sudan, Uganda and Kenya.