Despite a donor conference in April to help rebuild southern Sudan, during which more than $2 billion were pledged, funding for humanitarian programmes remains largely unmet. As those displaced by the 21-year conflict either return to their former homes or make plans to, the need for facilitating voluntary returns and providing reintegration assistance is becoming ever greater.
There are an estimated six million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Sudan with at least four million of those displaced by the war in the south. A majority of those are likely to return according to a new survey carried out by the IOM in partnership with the Sudanese government, UN agencies including OCHA, UNHCR, UNICEF, WHO and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
The survey on a sample of nearly 45,000 IDPs in Khartoum and 10 other states was carried out in order to ensure humanitarian programmes for the region, matched needs. It found that 67 per cent of the people questioned would return to their former homes but that most were worried about what they would do for food when they arrived. Other frequently mentioned issues were water and shelter. Most of the people who said they would return said they wanted to engage in agriculture.
However, before moving, the IDPs said they would want more information on safe routes, conditions back home and help with travel costs.
Using the data in the survey to estimate returns to areas of origin, nearly 50 per cent of IDPs would return to the Nuba Mountains and the remainder to South Sudan, predominantly to Bahr El Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile.
Eleven per cent of the IDPs in the survey had still not decided on whether they would return with 22 per cent saying they will not go back to their former homes.
A UN emergency programme for assisting the spontaneous return of IDPs and refugees to southern Sudan is due to be operational by the end of September. Humanitarian assistance is to be provided en route to returnees through a network of way stations managed by UNHCR, IOM and the NRC. IOM will also provide emergency transport to stranded and distressed returnees.
IOM programmes in Sudan cover the north, south and west of the country. The organisation has appealed for $38 million dollars including $21 million for programmes facilitating the voluntary and sustainable return of IDPs to southern Sudan. However, IOM has so far received just $4.2 million, with more than half the sum for Darfur.
Existing funds will allow IOM to carry out preliminary activities for the establishment only of primary way stations in Southern Sudan and to continue its operations in Darfur until September. For operations in both parts of the country beyond that date, funds are urgently needed.
For further information, please contact Mario Tavolaj, IOM Khartoum, tel: + 249 91 217 00 92