UNHCR begins to relocate S. Sudanese refugees in DRC
There are over 60,000 refugees who fled S. Sudan in Democratic Republic of Congo
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the
By Godfrey Olukya
ARU, Democratic Republic of Congo
The UN Refugee Agency in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has started relocating South Sudanese refugees from the border to a site located in Biringi in Aru territory in the northeast.
Thousands of South Sudanese refugees fled from their country to the DRC and other neighboring countries after fighters loyal to former vice president Riek Machar started fighting with government forces. Currently over 60,000 South Sudanese refugees have crossed into the DRC.
"The UNHCR estimates that by early 2017, 40,000 refugees could move to the sites which are further away from the border. The refugees are civilians who fled the conflict in South Sudan. The majority of the refugees are women and children," said UNHCR spokesman Andreas Kirchhof.
Apart from the refugees fleeing to the DRC, 750 combatants loyal to Riek Machar also fled. Kirchhof said the South Sudanese combatants were not part of the refugees being relocated.
"Combatants are not refugees. The UN Refugee Agency is therefore not involved with this specific group." he said.
Aru residents, where the combatants are also being kept, have recently complained about their stay in DRC.
Since December 2013, South Sudan has been the scene of fighting between government troops and fighters loyal to Riek Machar.
Although the two groups had signed an agreement to stop fighting and form a unity government in early July, they again started fighting, leading to many people to flee to neighboring countries.
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