The number of people who have fled South Sudan's civil war has crossed 1.5 million, in what is now the world's third-biggest refugee crisis after Syria and Afghanistan, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Friday.
Recent arrivals from the impoverished country "report suffering inside South Sudan with intense fighting, kidnappings, rape, fears of armed groups and threats to life, as well as acute food shortage," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told a press conference in Geneva.
In addition to the refugees, 2.1 million are displaced within the country that became independent from Sudan only in 2011.
South Sudan was plunged into a military conflict when a split between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar escalated in December 2013. The formation of a unity government did not stop the fighting.
UNHCR urged donors to help the surrounding countries that barely manage to cope with the inflow.
Spindler singled out efforts to help refugees in Uganda, which has taken in nearly 700,000 South Sudanese and has become the largest host country of this crisis.
Refugees were being integrated into local communities in Uganda and have received access to farmland, Spindler said.
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