By Peter Lokale Nakimangole
JUBA, 12 February [Gurtong] –In a statement released on Friday, the UNHCR appealed to President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the rebels under Riek Machar, to find workable political solution in order give hope to the fleeing refugees feared to have reached up to more than 1.5 million who have crossed into the neighbouring countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Congo, Sudan and Central Republic of Africa.
UNHCR worries that unless the government and rebel forces, agree to talk, the on-going flow of refugees from the country into the named destinations will continue to rise this year.
According to UNHCR, more than 2.1 million people have also been internally displaced as South Sudan is now Africa's largest refugee crisis and the world's third after Syria and Afghanistan - with less attention and chronic levels of underfunding.
"We are appealing to all parties involved in the conflict for an urgent peaceful resolution of the crisis." Said UNHCR.
More than 60 percent of the refugees are children, many arriving with "alarming levels of malnutrition" and suffering trauma according to the agency.
A political split between President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former deputy, Riek Machar, escalated into a military conflict in December 2013, leaving tens of thousands of people dead.
A unity government was formed in April 2016, but fighting erupted again in July last year, sending Machar and his forces into exile.
Previously, the UN's human rights agency blamed both sides of the warring parties, for ethnic target killings and human rights violations, coupled with extrajudicial executions and sexual violence incidences.