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Gov’t told to make conditions attractive for IDPs to return

Author: Charles Wote | Published: Friday, June 12, 2020

Returnees arrive by a barge from Sudan to Jonglei state | File photo

The UN Refugee Agency is encouraging the government of South Sudan to put in place facilities that will attract the Internally Displaced Persons to return home.

Experts say since December 2013, the brutal conflict in the country has claimed thousands of lives and driven nearly four million people from their homes.

They say while many remain displaced inside the country, more than 2 million have fled to neighbouring countries in a desperate bid to reach safety.

A report published this week by the Norwegian Refugee Council ranked South Sudan among the top ten world’s most neglected displacement crises.

The humanitarian group says in these countries, political inaction and lack of international media attention has led to insufficient humanitarian support to meet peoples’ needs.

Currently, South Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers are in Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and even in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to the UNHCR, the world’s youngest independent country has a recent and troubled history of prolonged conflicts, political instability, poor services, and climate change -namely desertification.

This it says discourages those displaced from returning home.

The organization revealed that it is struggling to raise 2.7 billion US dollars needed to address life-saving humanitarian needs of South Sudanese refugees in 2019 and 2020.

The refugee agency says it can’t continue to provide relief and life-saving shelter with limited resources.

In Juba, the organization urges the government to invest in areas such as protection, livelihoods, and education, for which levels among South Sudanese children and young adults are some of the lowest in the world.

“As you know the security area of return must be sustainable to encourage people to return and rebuild their lives,” said Inna Gladkova, UNHCR’s Assistant Representative for Protection in South Sudan.

She told Eye Radio on Thursday that “significant investment must be made in a development project in high return areas such as water, road electricity.”

This she added should include “improved healthcare, improved education in the area of return, hospital schools.”

In South Sudan, while the 2018 peace agreement held firm in most parts of the country, spikes in armed violence, inter-communal fighting, and cattle raiding have displaced thousands of people in the states of Central Equatoria, Jonglei, Lakes, Upper Nile, and Warrap.

“It is a long journey,” Gladkova declared, adding that this will require formulating and adopting existing laws that support the safe return of IDPs to their homes or origin.

“South Sudan cannot be alone and we have to support the country. So what is important is the IDPs bill framework for building capacity to mobilize and provide protection, humanitarian assistance, and development action,” she concluded.

From November 2017 to October 2019, UNHCR estimates some 219,720 South Sudanese refugees have spontaneously returned to South Sudan.

The agency states that the majority of South Sudanese refugees are women and children, many of whom flee across the border alone.

It adds that their needs are compounded by flooding, food shortages and diseases during the rainy season.

The annual report by the Norwegian Refugee Council notes that the humanitarian crises in South Sudan and the other countries in the list are expected to worsen throughout 2020, complicated by the global coronavirus pandemic that is adding further hardship to millions.

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