The security situation in south Sudan remained relatively stable. Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) attacks on the civilian population reportedly continued in Eastern Equatoria. The attacks took place in Gambella village (approximately 89 km east of Juba on Torit road) and Lowoi village (approximately 100 km east of Juba), displacing local populations.
During the Security Management Team (SMT) meeting in Rumbek on 6 September, the OLS (Operation Lifeline Sudan) Security Officer reported that SPLM/A soldiers are being regrouped and transported from Rumbek to Juba and Malakal.
Juba-Yei road re-opens after a decade
On 5 September, the Government of South Sudan re-opened the 100-mile Juba-Yei road, which had been closed for more than a decade. The citizens of Juba turned out in large numbers to welcome a convoy of over 30 trucks that arrived from Yei to mark the occasion. In celebration, they slaughtered cattle, danced and sang praises to the SPLM/A. Addressing the crowd that had gathered at mile 40, the political advisor to the Government of South Sudan, Samuel Abu John, expressed regret about the slow pace of the UN in demining and re-opening the road. The road provides a lifeline, linking Juba to East, West and Central Africa, and its re-opening will facilitate the movement of much needed commodities into Juba. For 20 years Juba relied solely on Khartoum for commodities transported by air. This resulted in a very high cost of living. With the re-opening of the Juba-Yei road, the cost of living is expected to decrease as commodities from Yei, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda will enter the market. Despite its re-opening, UN staff are authorized to use the road only up until mile 40. UN Mine Action in Sudan (UNMAS) has not authorized UN travel beyond mile 40 as they are still working on the road.
Tracking and monitoring of population movements starts in Kabo
Tracking and monitoring exercises have effectively started in Kabo, about 12 km west of Juba, on the Juba- Rokon road. A group of eight monitors are stationed in Kabo to carry out the exercises. The monitors are employed by OCHA and report to them. They work from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily and are mainly engaged in tracking and monitoring population movements and potential return areas as well as the safety of return routes. The information gathered is used for interventions by appropriate agencies within the Return and Reintegration Working Group. The forum was initiated by UNHCR and is an inter-agency working group, including the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SRRC), UN agencies and NGOs. The possibility of opening another station on the Juba-Yei road is being considered.
Preparing for return in Malakal
During a meeting with the Acting Administrative Supervisor and officials from relevant Ministries, the authorities confirmed that the plot of land where the way station is to be built south of Malakal will be protected by security forces. It should be noted that cattle raiders have been active south of Malakal and security in the area has been UNHCR's main concern.
UNHCR provides assistance to Juba Day Secondary School
On 2 September, UNHCR provided Juba Day Secondary School with stationery and other materials. Juba Day is the only secondary school in Juba that has an English curriculum. As such, all returnee students from East Africa and SPLM/A-controlled areas have enrolled at the school, forcing it to absorb students beyond its normal capacity. Most of the returnee students face problems, including lack of stationery, food and accommodation in Juba. UNHCR is assisting the school by providing a borehole, pit latrines, fencing and stationery. Windle Trust International (WTI), an international NGO specializing in education, visited Juba at the request of UNHCR to assess the educational situation and formulate projects.
IDP survey for south Sudan to start in October
On 6 September, the steering committee of the IDP survey project met at OCHA Rumbek to discuss progress on the project and to review timelines. It is hoped that the survey will start on 1 October and that the final report will be produced by 30 November.
UNHCR undertakes mission to Pibor to assess situation of Ethiopian Anuak refugees
UNHCR Juba undertook a mission to Pibor in Jongley State to asses the general situation of Anuak refugees. The authorities in Pibor had threatened to deport the refugees to Gambella as a result of an incident that took place late last month during which a group of about 100 refugees attacked a warehouse and looted seeds intended for cultivation. After discussions with the authorities, UNHCR received assurances that no forced repatriation would take place and that Sudan's obligation as a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention would continue to be respected.
During the mission, UNHCR received reports of a constant flow of new arrivals from Pochalla and Gambella into Pibor. There are currently 644 Anuak refugees in Pibor and this figure is expected to increase. This increase is exacerbating problems pertaining to scarce resources. UNHCR requested WFP to urgently update its lists and provide food to cover new arrivals. WFP last air-dropped food in Pibor in May 2005.
Protection Working Group produces induction package
At the Protection Working Group meeting in Rumbek on 7 September, participants agreed to assemble a "protection induction package" for humanitarian agencies, community-based organizations and local authorities. During the remainder of 2005, three training sessions to strengthen the capacity of communitybased protection networks are planned. A core group consisting of UNHCR, UNICEF, OCHA and NRC will meet to finalize the training package and determine three priority locations.
Minimum construction standards for school buildings
The Secretariat of Education invited UNHCR Rumbek to participate in a School Construction Sub-Working Group meeting from 31 August to 1 September. The draft minimum standards for the construction of school buildings submitted by the Secretariat was revised and discussed, resulting in the adoption of minimum criteria to be used as a guide by implementing partners for the construction of primary school buildings.
Progress on Community-Based Reintegration Projects
- ACROSS conducted a three-day management workshop for parent-teacher associations of three primary schools. The training aimed to strengthen the capacity of communities to effectively participate in the management of schools.
- Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has started a two-week in-service training for 45 (44 male and one female) teachers of 30 UNHCR-supported primary schools. The training is intended to improve teacher skills in south Sudan, where many of the teachers do not have any formal training.
- American Refugee Committee (ARC) has begun a three-week training for 15 counsellors who will work in voluntary testing centres (VCTs). After the training, 12 of the counsellors will be deployed to the five new VTCs (three in Kajo Keji, one in Morobo County and one in Lainya Country) which are expected to open by mid-September.
- Thirteen kilometres of the Yei-Lasu road have been demined.
- ARC is constructing six primary health care units.
- SUHA is constructing 11 primary health care units.
- ARC has drilled nine boreholes and rehabilitated 30. Water management committees have been trained for each of the boreholes.
- Tools to support community efforts to dig latrines were distributed in Liwolo, Kangapol and Nyepo Payams.
Sudanese refugees in the DRC are prepared to go home
The death of John Garang has brought uncertainty in the refugee community at Aba site (DRC) on the future of the peace process. Refugees have expressed concern on whether UNHCR would still organize the voluntary repatriation operation planned for October. Refugees at the site have been preparing themselves mentally to go home in October. During the registration exercise in May-June (Aba, Dungu, Doruma), 85 percent had indicated that they were willing to repatriate, five percent that they were willing to repatriate with conditions and 10 percent that they were not willing to repatriate. Many refugees did not plant during the rainy season in anticipation of their return.
Survey results show that 82 percent of Sudanese refugees in Uganda would like to return
On 2 September, a cross-border meeting took place in Kampala between UNHCR offices in the DRC, Uganda and south Sudan to discuss prospects for voluntary repatriation of Sudanese refugees in 2005 and 2006. UNHCR Kampala shared the results of a recent survey conducted in eight refugee settlements. A total of 5,379 households were surveyed, approximately 10 percent of the 54,271 refugee households in refugee settlements. Almost 40 percent of the households were headed by women (this fact may be important when prioritizing female-headed households for assistance upon return). Over 80 percent of all households had children in school and education ranked as the most important condition for return. Close to 70 percent of the households claimed to have at least one vulnerable family member. Twenty-three (23) percent of the refugees arrived in Uganda before 1993, 52 percent arrived between 1993 and 1995 and the remaining 25 percent arrived thereafter. However, there was no correlation between date of arrival and intention to return. Eighty-two (82) percent stated that they wanted to return if certain conditions were met and 10 percent did not want to return, but most did not give reasons why. Eight percent were undecided. Areas of return were Torit (56 percent), Yei (15 percent), Kajo Keji (nine percent) and Juba (eight percent).
Although most of the refugees wish to return before mid-2006, it is not likely that their conditions (schools, clinics, food security, water, shelter and mine clearing in that order) will have been met by then. Following the recommendations of the UNHCR/GTZ logistics mission, the need for an information campaign, "go and see" and "come and tell" visits were discussed during the meeting.
Logistics mission to south Sudan releases final report with main findings
The UNHCR/GTZ multi-sectoral mission that traveled to Western Equatoria, Aba (Democratic Republic of Congo - DRC) and Mboki (Central African Republic - CAR) from 18 July to 2 August to operationalize the logistics plan for repatriation just released its final report. Among its main findings, the team identified two priority corridors to start repatriation in 2005: 1) from Rudu, DRC (5,000 refugees) via Aba and Laso mainly to Yei by road and 2) from Mboki, CAR (planning figure of 10,000 refugees) mainly to Tambura by air. Most of the refugees in Rudu are from Yei and neighbouring counties. Refugees in Mboki originate from Tambura; however, there are also groups who will be returning to Ezo and Yambio.
Update on funding situation for South Sudan as at 30 August
Requirements (includes countries of asylum): US$ 76,347,770
2005 Contributions: US$ 33,061,869
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