The March 2005 report of the Sudan Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) estimated that approximately four million people were displaced from (or within) Southern Sudan by the 20 years of fighting between the northern and southern regions of Sudan. Following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in January 2005, IOM calculates that both North-South and South-South return movements stand at almost 1.7 million (see section 5, below).
While those assisted in their return within the extensive IOM, UN and governmental assisted return programme (81,598 individuals) have been closely monitored; others who have elected to return by themselves continue to pose enormous challenges to the international community and authorities that try to locate them, and to provide support.
To address these challenges, the IOM tracking of spontaneous returns programme gathers detailed information such as return numbers, basic demographic information (sex, age) and special needs/vulnerabilities of IDPs and refugees who have spontaneously returned to Southern Sudan and Southern Kordofan.
The main return route is from Northern to Southern Sudan, but South to South movements are also monitored. Both IDP and refugee returns are incorporated, returns assisted by bodies/agencies other than the joint UN-IOM/GNU/GoSS organised returns are classified as spontaneous and are included within the findings of this report.
The tool used for gathering returnee information is 'key informant interviews' with returnee households, either in transit or in their final destination. Returnee information is gathered through two parallel systems, the first is the En-route Tracking and the second is the Area of Return Tracking.
Since the beginning of IOM's involvement in the tracking project, IOM has physically tracked 213,193 returnees during their return journey of which around 70,000 are state organised returnees (En-route Tracking) and 663,344 returnees in their villages of return (Area of Return Tracking).
From this data, in combination with other village level data gathered on the rates of failed returns (secondary displacement), IOM estimates the total number of successful returns since the CPA until the end of June 2008 to be 1.7 million returnees. This figure takes into account secondary displacement (failed returns) of an estimated 184,705 individuals. According to IOM estimates, Northern Bahr el Ghazal has received the largest number of returns with an estimated 401,763 returnees (22 %) followed by Southern Kordofan with 298,098 returnees (16%) while Eastern Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal states received the lowest number of returnees with 53,395 returnees (3%) and 62,304 returnees (3%) respectively.
Single female headed households (SFHH) tracked during their journey represents only 38% while tracking in the area/village of return specify that SFHH represent 60% of the total tracked households in Southern Sudan.
The average of family size tracked while travelling is 5.2 which decreased to 4.5 in the area/villages of return. Also adults, tracked on route from the place of displacement to the place of return, between 18 to 59 years old diminish from 44% to 31% returnees tracked in the area/villages of returns; male in particular of the same age group tracked en route decreased also from around 22% to 15% male tracked in the area /villages of return.
The main means of transportation from North to South is trucks or buses (75%), followed by barges (15%).