Uganda warns of strain under huge South Sudan refugee influx

By RODNEY MUHUMUZA, Associated Press
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Uganda warned Friday that its resources are strained by the more than 400,000 refugees who have poured into the country in recent months from South Sudan’s civil war — a sign that its widely praised tolerance might be fraying.
This East African nation now has one of the world’s largest refugee centers.
The daily influx has been surpassing 3,000 people, many of them children afraid of being forcibly conscripted into armed groups in South Sudan, Apollo Kazungu, a government commissioner in charge of refugees, told The Associated Press.
Authorities will have to “be more creative” with basic support like food and housing if the numbers continue to rise, Kazungu said.
Many refugees are getting half rations of maize meal and beans until more aid arrives from the World Food Program, he said.
Refugees in Uganda are often allocated small plots of land to grow their own food to supplement U.N. rations. But Kazungu said allocating plots may no longer be feasible if more refugees arrive, and authorities may have to consider ideas like building dormitories.
The refugee flood began in July when deadly violence broke out in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
The United Nations says over 670,000 South Sudanese refugees are now sheltering in Uganda, which also hosts over 45,000 refugees from Burundi’s political violence.
One resettlement camp in northern Uganda known as Bidi Bidi is now home to more than 270,000 refugees, one of the world’s largest even though it was set up only in August.
Tens of thousands have died in South Sudan’s civil war, which began in December 2013. The conflict often has been fought along ethnic lines. The United Nations has warned of possible genocide.