UNITED NATIONS, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Friday said that the population of South Sudanese refugees in the region could pass the 1 million mark this year if cross-border displacement trends continue.
Earlier Friday, UNHCR, expressing concerns about the likelihood of fresh outflows of South Sudanese refugees in the wake of the fighting in the capital Juba, launched a revised appeal of 701 million U.S. dollars, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters here.
Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also reported that four days into the tenuous ceasefire in Juba, many people have begun to return to their homes, the spokesman said.
The fighting between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and the SPLA in Opposition, which backs First Vice-President Riek Machar, reportedly killed some 272 people, including 33 civilians, and displaced at least 36,000 civilians.
Noting that the overall planning figure had risen from 867,239 to 973,000, UNHRC officials in South Sudan said on Friday that in the first four months of this year, countries like Sudan and Uganda received between 70 and 90 percent of their planned 2016 population.
They lauded neighboring for keeping their borders open, noting that the number of countries hosting South Sudanese refugees has expanded to include the Central African Republic (10,454 refugees) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (11,966), in addition to Ethiopia (285,657), Kenya (103,104), Sudan (231,638) and Uganda (224,420).
Humanitarians have now visited all of the reported collective displacement sites and estimate that around 8,000 people remained displaced, including around 4,300 in the UNMISS sites and some 3,700 outside, Dujarric said.
The UNHCR noted that their initial appeal for this year was only 17 percent funded, which has forced them to prioritize emergency response and life-saving activities, at the expense of critical water, sanitation, hygiene, health and shelter interventions for refugees.
Although children constitute 70 percent of the refugee population, child protection activities are also severely compromised, the UN agency said.
Also on Friday, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reported that the situation in Juba remained calm but tense.
"Earlier today, the mission carried out a search operation for weapons at the UN Tomping base, where 2,300 internally displaced people are currently being protected, and recovered several items, including ammunition and military uniforms," the spokesman said. "Outside of Juba, UNMISS received reports of some clashes in Leer today."
The UN mission also began the temporary relocation of non-critical personnel in Juba to Entebbe on Friday, he said.
"Humanitarian organizations continue to respond in locations with the highest needs," he said.
While responding to the acute needs in Juba, the humanitarian community remained extremely concerned about the immense humanitarian needs across the country, where more than 4.8 million people were already severely food insecure before the recent violence, he added. Enditem