A steady stream of spontaneous returnees has been making its way home as a local peace initiative in the Tambura area, supported by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), has resulted in relative calm and security.
Make-shift tents sheltered thousands of internally displaced persons seeking refuge from fighting in Tambura and its surroundings. In recent weeks, several thousand have returned to their nearby home villages.
Despite facing multiple challenges, returnees say that home is where they want to be now that relative peace has been restored. However, some displaced persons still feel too uncertain to go back to their origins as they need something to return to.
“I don’t have a house. I don’t even have a plastic sheet I can erect for shelter when I return. I lost my husband during the conflict. I am alone, so who can construct a house for me?” said Angelina Lazaro, a displaced woman in Tambura.
On the other hand, Mary Sebit returned to her village in November last year when she heard that calm and security prevailed again. She eagerly awaits the rainy season to resume farming.
“I fled to nearby army barracks. Life there was very difficult. There was nothing to eat. I realized that if I continued to stay there, my life with my children would not be ok, so I decided to come home with all my children. We are not asking for food but let them at least bring us seeds and tools for planting them. That would help us,” she said.
A UNMISS assessment team visiting the areas of returnees witnessed the difficulties that the home-comers are facing.
“They have decided to go back home to reconnect with their sources of livelihood to be able to send their children to school and take up their farming activities again,” said Thomas Bazawi, an UNMISS Protection, Transition and Reintegration Officer.
He reiterated the peacekeeping mission’s continued support to the returnees.
“UNMISS as a peace partner, will work hand in hand with the government. More specifically, in the areas of high concentration of returnees, we will use the little funding that we have for Quick Impact Projects to fill some of the service delivery gaps that the returnees may be facing. We will also advocate on behalf of the community in different forums,” he added.
It is hoped that peace will continue to prevail and that humanitarian actors will contribute to ensure that basic needs of returnees can be met.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).