Returnees in Khor-gana face a dire lack of basic services in their original settlements

UNMISS reintegration returnees voluntary returns Wau South Sudan peace process Protection of Civilians displaced people refugees IDPs humanitarian reconciliation

When displaced by conflict, turning steps homewards after years not only requires courage but also comes with its own tribulations. New returnees in Khor-gana, Western Bahr El Ghazal, speak to an UNMISS patrol about their pressing need for clean water, shelter, food and education. Photo by Michael Wondi/UNMISS

10 Jun 2022

Returnees in Khor-gana face a dire lack of basic services in their original settlements

Michael Wondi

WESTERN BAHR EL GHAZAL - With a peace deal signed in 2018 and a transitional government of national unity in place, communities across South Sudan who had abandoned their homes and villages to save their lives during past civil wars are slowly beginning to return.

However, many returnees face extreme hardships upon arrival in their places of origin.

A case in point is the plight of newly returned community members in Khor-gana, Western Bahr El Ghazal.

A visiting patrol from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recently met some of them and listened to their concerns.

“We are suffering. We thought wars are over and lets turn our steps homewards but we need support from the government and the international community because we lost everything to conflict,” said Fedila Esens, a returnee.

“Our main concerns are clean water, shelter, food and education for our children,” she continued.

Fedila’s concerns were echoed by many others like her.

“Our issue now is humanitarian support,” states Joseph Mario, a youth representative. “There is relative calm here but while we aren’t in the midst of conflict, our basic needs aren’t being met.”

Farming, according to Joseph, would help overcome the issue of food and called on the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to help them with seeds and tools.

The UNMISS patrol, led by the mission’s Protection, Transition and Reintegration Section, assured new returnees that they would carry their message to humanitarian and government partners.

“Service delivery for newly returned is essential to make sure that they are able to successfully reintegrate into society and begin rebuilding their lives,” said Henry Charles Sambai, a Protection, Transition and Reintegration Officer deployed at the UNMISS Field Office in Wau.

“We will make sure that the conversations we have had today are reported to our partners in the UN Country Team as well as state and national authorities so that the returnee community here receives relief at the soonest.”

Representatives of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) were also part of the patrol team which aimed at holding dialogues to foster voluntary returns.