UN and partners in Wau implementing action plan for voluntary return of displaced people
The United Nations Missions in South Sudan (UNMISS), its humanitarian partners and local authorities in Wau are gradually implementing a plan of action for displaced people to voluntarily return to their homes.
Representatives from the UN mission, humanitarian actors and the local government in Wau have formed working groups to deal with issues of security, humanitarian assistance and information and communication. The aim is to create a conducive environment for internally displaced persons, seeking shelter at the UNMISS protection site or in other areas of town, who want to return home.
The group handling security related challenges is engaged in bringing calmness and ensuring a protective atmosphere in Wau and its surroundings, while the humanitarian actors are making efforts to extend services beyond the protection of civilians sites and in areas where the displaced are likely to go.
Some of the actions that has been taken over the last two months groups include the deployment of national security and increased national police presence in Wau town. The UN Mission is also undertaking more frequent, nimble and robust patrols in identified priority areas of return.
Another part of the implementation of the action plan is the increased access of humanitarian actors and assistance to vulnerable populations outside of Wau, including Baggari, Beselia, Taban and Bazia.
Many displaced people sheltered near the UN protection site in Wau say they are keen to restart their livelihoods, but concerns about safety and security are still making it difficult to decide to return home.
“We came here for protection. The most important is that we want to move to our respective homes and carry on with our normal lives at the outskirt of the town without hindrance. We would like to go to farms in areas like Besilia, Khor-gana, Bagari and Kpaile”, said Juma Suleiman, a representative of the community staying at the UN protection site.
John Dinie, who has also sought protection at the peacekeeping mission’s site while yearning for durable peace, also took advantage of a visit paid by the Wau deputy governor Zakaria Joseph Garang and a few of his ministers to express his thoughts about returning home.
“The presence of the army along the road leading to the outskirts of town is one of our concerns when we think about going home to resume our livelihoods,” Mr. Dinie said.
The number of people staying at the UN protection site has decreased from a high of 39,000 to approximately 25,000.
The acting head of the UNMISS field office in Wau, Ms. Julie Kiwanuka, says that this trend represents “encouraging progress”, and a sign of an improved security situation in Wau. She stated that the peacekeeping mission remains committed to doing its part to ensure that the town is safe and can provide the services needed for people to return to their homes.
The deputy governor also pledged to help internally displaced people realize their dreams of resuming their pre-conflict lives, including farming their land.
“I realize that all the things you mention are related to security, and that is why you are here [in the UN protection site]. We are working to provide security and protection for all the people,” said Zakaria Joseph Garang.