As Thousands Flee South Sudan, Ugandan Refugee Camp Becomes World's Largest : Parallels People fleeing South Sudan's brutal civil war have streamed across the border to Uganda, where the Bidi Bidi camp now hosts more than 270,000 people. It's become the biggest refugee camp in the world.
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As Thousands Flee South Sudan, Ugandan Refugee Camp Becomes World's Largest

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As Thousands Flee South Sudan, Ugandan Refugee Camp Becomes World's Largest

As Thousands Flee South Sudan, Ugandan Refugee Camp Becomes World's Largest

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Uganda is now home to the largest refugee camp in the world. So what does that tell us? It's actually a sign that the situation in neighboring South Sudan is getting worse. Here's NPR's Eyder Peralta.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Back in March when I last visited Uganda, the country was opening refugee camps at a furious pace. The Bidi Bidi camp in northern Uganda had reached capacity. Amy Frost of Save the Children said then that some NGO staff couldn't rest.

AMY FROST: For the people working here, a day with a thousand people arriving is quite quiet.

PERALTA: Already, she said, the country and the U.N.'s refugee agency - UNHCR - were overwhelmed.

FROST: Uganda is now host to over a million refugees. UNHCR's worst case forecast for this year was 500,000 new arrivals from South Sudan. If the rate continues as it is now, then we're going to reach that figure in August.

PERALTA: Since then, the civil war in South Sudan has only gotten worse. What began as a dispute between the president and vice president has turned into a brutal civil war fueled by ethnic tensions. A few days ago, the group in charge of monitoring a peace agreement in the country made public a damning report that government soldiers burnt down entire villages.

The chief of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, Festus Mogwai, had already warned the U.N. Security Council that the situation in South Sudan was quickly, quote, "slipping out of control."

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FESTUS MOGAE: And all parties to the agreement are failing in their basic duty to protect the South Sudanese people.

PERALTA: As the fighting continues, the number of civilians fleeing to Uganda has steadily increased. Bidi Bidi, one of the first camps opened, is host to more than 270,000 refugees, making it the world's largest. It is now bigger than Dadaab in Kenya, which has taken Somali refugees for decades.

Yesterday, 3,000 more refugees crossed the border into Uganda. UNHCR is scrambling to open up yet another new camp. The refugees told reporters what's become a familiar story, that they fled a once-peaceful village as fellow civilians were indiscriminately massacred. Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Nairobi.

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