UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- UN relief office said Friday that nearly 500,000 people have been uprooted by the conflict erupted a month ago between the government and rebels in South Sudan.
"The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that nearly half a million people are estimated to have been displaced by the fighting," UN acting deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said at a daily news briefing.
Meanwhile, he said, aid organizations have reached more than 200,000 people in the country, providing food for over 160,000 people in six states, and nutrition supplements for hundreds of children.
Fighting erupted on Dec. 15 when soldiers backing former Deputy President Riek Machar, dismissed in July, reportedly launched an attempted coup in the country, which gained independence in 2011 after seceding from Sudan,
More than 86,000 South Sudanese have crossed into neighboring countries since the conflict started, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which expects the number to exceed 100,000 by the end of this month.
Latest government data shows that there are now 46,579 South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Ethiopia has so far received 20,624, and Kenya at least 8,900. An estimated 10,000 people have also crossed into Sudan's South and West Kordofan states, which are also plagued by armed violence.
According to the spokesperson, UNHCR is working to set up new camps and expand the capacity of the existing ones in Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya. The agency also urges partners to assist in building up the settlements for an influx of refugees, most of whom are under the age of 18.
It currently needs 88 million U.S. dollars to address the humanitarian crisis inside the world's youngest country as well as in its surrounding region.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson said, the United Nations Children's Fund on Friday expressed its deep concern over "credible" reports that children are participating in the conflict.