JUBA, -- The UN refugee agency says the number of South Sudanese refugees registered in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo nearly doubled last month to reach about 54,000, as heavy fighting continues to ravage the world's youngest nation.

Hundreds have been killed in South Sudan in battles that broke out in July between troops loyal to long-time rivals President Salva Kiir and former vice-president Riek Machar. Dozens more died in fighting last weekend.

South Sudan has now leapfrogged Burundi to become the third-largest source of refugees in Congo, after Rwanda and the Central African Republic. The vast central African nation hosts a total of nearly 430,000 refugees registered by the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR.

A UNHCR spokesman said it was unclear how much of the increase was accounted for by new arrivals as opposed to registration of existing refugees, but that the influx of South Sudanese fleeing the conflict was continuing.

Meanwhile, the United States is accusing South Sudan of providing support for Sudanese armed opposition groups and cautions that they respect UN Security Council Resolution.

The Department of State said in a statement on Friday that reports indicate the South Sudanese government harbors Sudanese armed groups despite its obligations under international law and repeated agreements between the two countries.

"We urge South Sudan's leaders to redouble their efforts to meet the commitments they recently reached with Sudan under which both sides agreed to end support for armed opposition groups on either side," the statement said.

It added that the involvement of Sudanese armed opposition forces in South Sudan's internal conflicts, destabilizes both countries which goes against the conflict resolution agreement.

"We call on the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to ensure Sudanese armed opposition groups are not in a position to conduct armed operations within South Sudan or across the border in Sudan," they advised adding that the armed forces should be withdrawn from the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone.

Source: Nam News Network

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