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UNHCR Sudan Operations: Sudan/Chad situation update 60, 29 Jun 2006

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SOUTH SUDAN
Security

The security situation in Juba and the surrounding areas remained tense amidst armed bandit attacks at first attributed to the Lordís Resistance Army (LRA), but later confirmed as being the work of the Murle and Didinga militias. It is likely that the violent incident on 8 June involving a GTZ contractor, who was shot and killed by unknown assailants while working on the road Narus-Juba in the vicinity of Torit, was not the work of the LRA. There have, however, been reliable reports of the LRA being displaced from Uganda under UPDF pressure into Sudan.

Intensive diplomatic moves by the Government of South Sudan took place in Juba to negotiate peace between the LRA and the Ugandan Government. The LRA delegation arrived in Juba and carried out indirect talks with the former Chief of the Ugandan External Security Organisation.

Criminality continued to be a source of concern in Yei, with various robbery incidents reported recently. Additional police officers were sent from Juba to enforce security.

Political developments

The Government of South Sudan decided that Juba will be the capital of the whole of South Sudan and the headquarters of the Government, while Yei will become the capital of Central Equatoria State, necessitating the transfer of Central Equatoria authorities and state apparatus to Yei.

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) officially handed over the main military barracks in Juba to the SPLA military leadership. The new military structure comprising the SAF and the SPLA - the Joint Integrated Unit (JIU) - took over, replacing the SAF in accordance with the provision of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The President of the Government of South Sudan Salva Kiir said during the handover ceremony that the JIU would become the new army of the New Sudan.

Repatriation from the Democratic Republic of Congo

The repatriation from the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC) to Yei, which had been on hold due to insecurity, was finally launched on 7 June with the first convoy of refugees returning home from Orientale Province. This first convoy arrived at the newly-opened Alero way station with 226 persons (65 families) on board. The returnees were welcomed by the Yei County Commissioner and were provided with a threemonth food ration from WFP and a package of non-food items (plastic sheets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, blankets, buckets and jerry cans) from UNHCR. A second convoy of 241 persons (86 families) arrived on 12 June and a third convoy of 270 persons (104 families) arrived on 16 June. The final destinations of the majority of the returnees were Morobo, Maridi, Yei and Juba. The dispersal was difficult because of the many destinations far apart from each other. Furthermore, there were problems with the trucking fleet, but GTZ managed to put together dispersal convoys (on average, three for each convoy from the DRC).

Repatriation from Uganda

On 13 June, 92 refugees (36 families) were repatriated from Arua, Uganda, to Kajo Keji, Central Equatoria, bringing the total number of returnees to Kajo Keji to 2,714 since repatriation from Uganda started on 2 May. A new corridor for repatriation was launched on World Refugee Day on 20 June from Arua to greater Yei. A total of 219 persons (69 families) repatriated in the first convoy movement. A ceremony was held at the Uganda/Sudan border town of Kaya with the presence of County Commissioners and District Administrators from both Uganda and South Sudan, community leaders, NGO representatives and UNHCR staff from Uganda and South Sudan to celebrate both the returnees and World Refugee Day. Hundreds of community members turned out singing and dancing to welcome their Sudanese brothers and sisters back home.

After the ceremony, the returnees arrived in Alero way station where they were greeted by the Commissioners of Yei and Lainya. They were registered, verified and provided with food rations (WFP), nonfood items (UNHCR) and seeds and tools (FAO). Mine Action Group (MAG) provided mine risk education sessions prior to dispersal. The final destinations were all in or around Yei town. From now on, there will be two repatriation convoys every week from Arua on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each convoy will transport about 250 refugees.

Repatriation from Kenya

The organised voluntary repatriation from Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya to Upper Nile State is suspended due to the rainy season. The total number of repatriated refugees from 12 April to 28 May is 753 individuals (425 families) who returned mainly to Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei States.

UNHCR staff in Kapoeta, Eastern Equatoria, are liaising with colleagues in Kakuma about the voluntary repatriation of refugees from Eastern Equatoria who have registered to go home. A date for the return is expected to be decided soon. The temporary way station is ready to be used, although some minor rehabilitation is to be completed.

Repatriation of Congolese refugees from Sudan

The Congolese repatriation operation which started on 9 May continued. On 6 and 8 June, 64 individuals (29 families) and 65 persons (22 families) flew from Juba to Buta respectively. Also on 8 June, another nine families travelled from Khartoum and Juba to Aru. The last flight on 18 June carried 60 refugees to Buta, bringing the total number of repatriated refugees to 648.

Influx of Congolese in Lasu

UNHCR received information of an influx of Congolese into Lasu. On 14 June, a joint team comprised of UNHCR, OCHA and the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SRRC) carried out an assessment mission to gather information on what caused the Congolese to come to Sudan and to evaluate protection concerns. There are approximately 225 Congolese (70 families) in Lasu. Those interviewed claimed that they fled due to military raids in their villages in Kisangani Province in the DRC. Reportedly, many villagers were beaten, tortured and raped and property was looted.

The payam administrator and the sub-chief of Lasu informed the team that after consultation with the local authorities they are willing to provide a place in Lasu, away from the border, for the Congolese to construct shelters and to farm. However, the authorities said that they cannot fully realize this objective without assistance from the agencies, including water, food, plastic sheets, non-food items and a health centre. At the current site, the Congolese have access to one borehole.

A follow-up mission will be undertaken to confirm numbers as some may have come for a few days and gone back. For those staying in Lasu and afraid to return to the DRC, the possibility to assist with food and nonfood items will be assessed.

Bor Dinka IDPs returning from Yei to Bor

The operation to transport over 4,000 Bor Dinka IDPs from Yei to Juba en route to Bor under the auspices of IOM and UNHCR began on 17 June. A total of 129 Bor Dinka IDPs (45 families) were safely transported in the second movement from Yei to Juba on 21 June and another 276 persons (108 families) on 24 June. The IDP movement from Yei to Juba will continue twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The first group of Bor Dinka IDPs from Western Equatoria, numbering about 3,000, was successfully repatriated from Juba to Bor between December 2005 and April 2006.

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