Going home: Southern Sudan IDP's dilemma
Thousands have already started returning home on voluntary basis. A United Nations Envoy however says instability in the region may expose them to further abuse.
Recent news reports indicate that new refugees are still arriving from Sudan in Kakuma refugee camp in Northern Kenya, while others already disillusioned with life in the camps are waiting to go home.
"Lack of resources and infrastructure in the South and the volatile security situation and the absence of solid state structures pose serious threats to the human rights of returnees," said the UN Secretary-General's representative on the human rights of IDPs, Walter Kälin.
After meeting government officials and IDPS during his mission in October to Khartoum and Juba, Kälin cautioned against encouraging IDPs to go back to their villages too hastily.
According to the envoy, premature return may cause serious humanitarian problems despite the peace. He says in many areas, returnees fear for their safety due to militia activities, armed civilians and landmines adding that some returnees are even illegally taxed and looted during their long journeys back home.
Relevant institutions are therefore being urged to respect the liberties of IDPs, including their right to be fully informed and consulted on available relocation options and to freely choose whether they wanted to return, to integrate locally or to resettle elsewhere.
In particular authorities in Khartoum are being asked to reconsider plans to relocate the IDP camps and irregular settlements without offering the IDPs viable alternative accommodation, as they may trigger involuntary returns.
Following the signing of the peace agreement in January between the Sudanese government and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army, many IDPs returned to their original home areas and found that they lacked shelter, sufficient food, clean drinking water and access to medical services and education.
"It is predictable that these problems will increase once larger numbers of internally displaced persons return to the south," said Kälin.
The UN Mission in Sudan further says continued attacks on civilians in Southern Sudan by the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), are making humanitarian access to the region's vulnerable populations increasingly difficult.
The impaired access was preventing relief agencies from forming a clear picture of the numbers of affected populations and delivering much-needed aid, the UN News Service reported.
The LRA, which has waged a 19-year war against the government of Uganda, operates from bases in northern Uganda and southern Sudan, and frequently targets southern Sudanese civilians.
The government of Sudan, the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army and the Ugandan army recently launched a joint operation to flush the rebels out of Sudan.