As South Sudan looks forward to holding its first ever free, fair and credible elections in December 2024, encouraging voluntary returns by those internally displaced due to conflict and civil war is critical.
Refugees who fled turbulent times in this young nation in previous years, also have the right to return to their original settlements and participate in building a brighter, more prosperous South Sudan.
To this end, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recently hosted a training on managing the process of returns and reintegration for county commissioners and high-ranking officials from Eastern Equatoria’s Relief and Rehabilitation Commission.
“We are expecting South Sudanese to come back home soon. We need to be ready to assist them and prioritize their needs at the local level. Such trainings equip us with the necessary knowledge to receive them,” said Jacob Atari Albano, Torit County Commissioner.
The initiative falls within the UN Peacekeeping mission’s mandated aims of fostering a secure environment for safe, voluntary, dignified return for refugees and displaced people.
“At this crucial juncture in South Sudan’s history, we are delighted to help make conditions conducive for citizens who have been living away from their homes for extended periods of time,” revealed Anthony Nwapa, Acting Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Torit.
“It heartens us to hear that people are willing to leave behind the wounds of the past and return to fully contribute to a peaceful democratic transition. But at the same time, the government has to have frameworks in place that allow returnees to trace their steps homewards and rebuild their lives. Therefore, we felt this was an opportune moment to enhance the capacities of all stakeholders responsible for managing returns at the county level,” he explained further.
Augustine Okuma, the Chairperson for Relief and Rehabilitation Commission in Eastern Equatoria agreed.
“We will coordinate with these newly trained officials to improve livelihood activities among returnees. Service delivery for the newly returned is essential to make sure that they can successfully reintegrate into society,” he clarified.
Such activities are part of the mission’s ongoing engagement to create locally led capacities to tackle and overcome the impact of conflict across South Sudan.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).