Sudan - IOM's Director General, Brunson McKinley, today began a six-day visit to Sudan including North and South Darfur and Juba in the south.
In addition to reviewing IOM operations in Sudan, the Director General will also visit Klaimendo Village in Darfur, a Sudanese civil-society project under the auspices of the Klaimendo Development Organization. The project aims at reconciliation and rehabilitation of victims of the ongoing fighting.
In Khartoum and Juba, Director General McKinley will meet high-level government figures and representatives of partner organizations.
IOM carries out a comprehensive programme of activities in Sudan, operating out of 13 offices in all parts of the country with an annual budget running to some USD 40 million. Programmes include assistance to returning war victims, employment reinsertion of qualified Sudanese, camp management and community enhancement. IOM staff in Sudan number more than 700, overwhelmingly Sudanese.
As part of its active support of the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement, IOM has assisted more than 42,000 IDPs since February 2007 to return home in South Sudan, Northern Bahr El Ghazal and South Kordofan, with medical screening, transport assistance and overnight accommodation during the journey and escorts. Over the same period, IOM has repatriated more than 22,000 refugees from neighbouring countries in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
To keep returns running during the rainy season, IOM is using a barge on the White Nile to return internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Kosti in the White Nile State to Malakal in Upper Nile State. IDP returns by air between Khartoum and Juba are scheduled to begin in July.
A joint programme coordinated by IOM, the Government of National Unity, the Government of South Sudan and the United Nations aims to assist some 64,000 IDPs this year.
"IOM is committed to working with the Government of National Unity and the Government of South Sudan in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement," said McKinley. "Assisting the internally displaced and refugees to return to their places of origin, and encouraging those with much-needed teaching skills to engage in the rebuilding of the country, are two areas in which IOM is very active. Rebuilding the infrastructure is vital for lasting peace and stability to take root in Sudan."
To help stability take root by improving the capacity of receiving communities in Northern Bahr el Ghazal to absorb the returnees, IOM is working with the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) in setting up programmes to improve basic infrastructure and community services, especially water systems.
As part of on-going efforts to attract Sudanese professionals who can help rebuild the South, IOM has assisted 75 displaced teachers and more than 200 of their dependents to return from Khartoum to South Sudan. Their return into productive teaching jobs is part of a broader programme to attract qualified displaced individuals with skills in health, education and engineering so they can take part in the reconstruction of the country.
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