Thousands of people fleeing violence in South Sudan have crossed the border into northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN said on Wednesday.
“According to village chiefs, 5,000 refugees have arrived in several border villages near the town of Ingbokolo, in Ituri province,” a spokesman for the UN’s peacekeeping mission MONUSCO said.
“The areas are hard to reach — roads and bridges are damaged and in a poor state. The HCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] has sent additional personnel to Ituri to register the refugees and help in their possible transfer,” the spokesman said.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, becoming the 193rd member of the UN.
But a civil war broke out in 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup.
Since then nearly 400,000 people have been killed and millions forced from their homes or driven to the brink of starvation.
The DRC hosts more than half a million refugees from Rwanda, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, while at least 800,000 Congolese have taken refuge abroad, according to the latest UNHCR figures.
The DRC also has 4.49 million people who are internally displaced, according to UN figures. The authorities give a much lower estimate of 245,000.