Returnees appeal for security, shelter, and food to help integration
Peter Yuang recently returned home from Uganda, where he had sought refuge. But something is spoiling his return party.
“I returned with a number of children who are ill. But they could not find the medication required at the Bor Hospital,” he says.
Peter is one of six returnees from the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement Camp in Uganda, attending a two-day consultative workshop in Bor town on creating an enabling environment for returnees in South Sudan’s Jonglei region.
Peter and his colleagues, aged between 24 and 35, know exactly what they want, and so they are appealing for help so they can get it.
“With our return, I am expecting that we can have food, shelter and above all our security can be guaranteed,” Peter said, hoping that the factors that sent him and his family out of the country would not arise yet again.
“We came back because of the peace and we hope that it will improve,” he added.
The workshop, organised by the Relief Reintegration and Protection Unit of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in collaboration with humanitarian stakeholders, provided a good opportunity for the returnees to express their wishes and expectations.
They pleaded with authorities to work at ensuring that their return will be meaningful and worth the risk.
Gai Abraham, another returnee from Uganda said the issue of shelter was critical for him and his peers.
“I am currently staying with my uncle, and as the eldest son of my father [who is dead] and my elderly mother, I must put up some shelter for my family and the rest of my siblings,” he said. “We also lack numerous non-food items, and I hope that the humanitarian agencies will be able to help us find our feet, settle and start doing things for ourselves.”
Governor Philip Aguer Manyang of Jonglei warmed the hearts of the returnees when he told them it was the government’s responsibility to ensure their security, promising, “That, we will do.”
He also appealed for greater support from the humanitarian agencies, as he called on those who want to ruin the peace process to lay down their arms and get on board.
A total of about 2 million South Sudanese fled the country when war broke out in 2013. Majority of them found refuge in neighbouring Uganda, which is sheltering over a million people, according to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.
A growing number of South Sudanese citizens scattered within the country and neighbouring states have started returning home in the months following the signing of the revitalized peace agreement. While others from the UNMISS Protection of Civilians sites have returned home in various parts of the country.