South Sudan’s civil war began in December 2013, when soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, and those loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, a Nuer, fought in the capital following months of growing political tensions. Since serious abuses against civilians by both government forces and opposition fighters happened. Government soldiers killed, raped, and tortured civilians as well as destroying and pillaging civilian property during counterinsurgency operations in the southern and western parts of the country, and both sides committed abuses against civilians in and around Juba and other areas.
According to UNHCR, in consequence, 1.9 Million South Sudanese citizens fled to neighboring countries out of which, 1.025 Million shelter in Uganda. Praise for Uganda centers on its relatively progressive refugee policy under which it has given its refugees the right to work, access to land (30 meters square to build a house and 50 meters square to cultivate) and a significant degree of freedom of movement.
The Bidi Bidi settlement camp, 40km from the South Sudanese border is believed to be the largest single refugee settlement in the world. It was built in just six months. When South Sudan descended into renewed violence last July, when a peace deal fully collapsed , Bidibidi was a dusty patch of scrub near a tiny village with barely a dirt road to call its own. Originally, it was expected to hold 40,000 people. Soon after it opened in August, it started growing by twice that number every month. Now it’s a sprawling expanse of mud-walled huts and tents, inhabited by one-fifth of the almost 1.3 million South Sudanese who have fled violence, hunger and rapid inflation in their home country.
Its rapid growth is a reflection of the ongoing crisis in South Sudan, which the UN has warned could be on the verge of genocide.
Every day, thousands of people cross the border into Uganda. This year, UNHCR expects another 350,819 South Sudanese refugees to arrive, adding to the more than 800,000 already here. Of the current refugees, 86% are women and children.
“We are at breaking point. Uganda cannot handle Africa’s largest refugee crisis alone,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “The lack of international attention to the suffering of the South Sudanese people is failing some of the most vulnerable people in the world when they most desperately need our help.”