Over 6,000 refugees have fled South Sudan to Uganda – U.N.

Over 6,000 refugees have fled South Sudan to Uganda – U.N.

More than 6,000 people have fled to Uganda from Pajok in the Eastern Equatoria region of South Sudan since Monday (April 3), Babar Baloch, a U.N. refugee agency spokesman, told a news briefing in Geneva on Friday (April 7).

U.N. peacekeepers have been trying to get to the town, near the border with Uganda, for four days after unconfirmed reports emerged of mass killings.

The peacekeepers have been barred by the South Sudanese military, New York-based U.N. spokeswoman Eri Kaneko said this week.

The refugees said some of those killed were children shot as they tried to flee, while others had their throats slit before their bodies were strung up from door frames.

Baloch added that many displaced people were still hiding in the bush trying to find their way to Uganda while homes and properties had been looted and burned, with main roads out of the town reported to be blocked by armed groups.

The assault on Pajok is the latest in a series of attacks in the fertile Equatoria region. Many towns and villages in the region are now deserted, residents say.

Around 1.7 million people have fled South Sudan, most of them to Uganda, which is struggling to cope with the influx. Nearly two-thirds of the new arrivals are children.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war, but has been mired in factional conflict since President Salva Kiir sacked his vice president Riek Machar in 2013. The fighting that followed has often split the country along ethnic lines.

Both sides have targeted civilians, human rights groups say.