From November 2017 to December 2019, UNHCR in partnership with South Sudan's Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) estimates some 235,802 South Sudanese refugees have returned to South Sudan spontaneously or in self-organized manner. To learn more about the challenges they face and their plans for the future, UNHCR, RRC and partners conducts an in-depth, household-level survey of returnees across the country. Data for this assessment was collected from October to December 2019, during which 2,379 households (16,321 individuals) were interviewed in high return locations in all ten states (Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Western Equatoria, Jonglei, Western Bahr El Ghazal, Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Unity, Upper Nile, Warrap and Lakes).
Findings of periodic household-level survey
The highest number of spontaneous refugee returnees surveyed came from Sudan (6,212), followed by Uganda (5,603).
A majority (80%) were women and children, with 55% being female headed households.
Mostly (42%) of the refugee returnees car pooled or drove a private car, while 37% came by bus.
Mostly (92%) paid for the journey with their own money, but some reported receiving assistance from authorities in countries of asylum and in South Sudan.
The overwhelming majority (67%) of respondents said they intended to stay permanently.
Main reasons for return included:
Improvement of security situation in South Sudan.
Reunite with family members.
Insufficient employment and livelihood opportunities in country of asylum.
Insufficient access to basic services in country of asylum.
Insecurity in country of asylum.
• Mostly (70%) of refugee returnees said they intended to remain in the village to which they returned, while only 7% expressed desire to move to a different county.
• Mostly (94%) of surveyed refugee returnees said they feel safe in their current location and 83% said that they have good relationship with the host community.
• Mostly (74%) reported owning a house and/or land in South Sudan, but 15% and 9%, respectively, do not have access to it for various reasons.
General situation and overreaching issues in places of returns:
• Returning families have challenges of shelter and NFIS because they are not able to return with any items. Returnee families are fully dependent on sharing items with hosting families which strain resources and relationships.
• Lack of comprehensive health services in the places of returns has a huge impact for the returning families. Health services in counties are limited.
• Lack of reliable livelihood opportunities in the places of returns. Many returnees have the capacity but lack of startup capital. Many of them have the land for farming but they lack seeds and tools.
• House, land and property issues is another challenge for returning families. Some of the returnees could not return to their places of origin within the Payam because their land/houses and properties have been occupied by the cattle keepers from other states.