South Sudan refugees flee to DRC amid latest violence
South Sudanese citizens are fleeing to the Democratic Republic of Congo amid the latest clashes between government troops and rebel forces.
Officials from both South Sudan’s warring political parties signed a peace deal in Ethiopia last week, which came into effect on Christmas Eve. However, the day after the deal was agreed, a new influx of refugees from South Sudan entered the DRC as government soldiers clashed with rebels.
Clashes continue in South Sudan
Although South Sudan’s ceasefire hadn’t yet come into effect when the influx of refugees first entered the DRC, it shows how difficult it will be for the agreement to reach those actually participating in the violence. Both the government and rebel officials promise they will adhere to the ceasefire but there were reports of fresh violence just hours after it came into effect on Christmas Eve.
South Sudan’s main rebel group accused government troops of initiating the violence but the government insists it was the rebels who started things.
DRC arrests rebel fighters
The DRC has responded to the influx of refugees by attempting to arrest any rebel fighters that enter the country. The government says it will arrest anyone suspected of being a rebel soldier even if they have renounced their allegiance to the opposition group. The DRC says no soldier will be granted refugee status and could be deported back to South Sudan after their arrest.
The government fears rebel soldiers entering the country could bring further violence into areas already struggling with conflicts of their own. However, refugees in the DRC say that innocent young men are being caught up in the government’s campaign to arrest rebel fighters.
Featured image: By DFID – UK Department for International Development – Working with UNHCR to help refugees in South Sudan, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26240425