UNMISS engineers provide housing for returnees’ transit camp

21 Sep 2012

UNMISS engineers provide housing for returnees’ transit camp

20 September 2012 - Agilo Akol bubbled with excitement as the UNMISS Japanese engineers handed over two new buildings to the UN refugee agency's way station today in Juba.

"I am happy to see the new housing," said the 32-year-old returnee. "Now I hope that my brothers and sisters won't have to live outside in the rain and the sun."

With a huge number of refugees and returnees flooding into the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) transit camp, Mr. Akol knew firsthand how difficult conditions were.

A returnee from Khartoum himself, he lived at the way station for two weeks before the new buildings, which will accommodate 100 people each, were completed.

Refugees and returnees stay at the camp for up to two months before moving on to their final destinations. Lack of space meant that many of them had to live outside exposed to the elements.

Receiving the houses, which were constructed over the last four months by the UNMISS engineers, UNHCR Deputy Representative Vesna Vukovic said the camp had served more than 32,000 people since 2005 and many more were expected.

"The new building project was implemented as part of the UNMISS Protection of Civilians mandate and the UNHCR repatriation program," said Lt. Col. Matsuki Nobutaka of the Japanese contingent.

UNMISS Recovery, Reintegration and Peacebuilding section chief Sylvia Fletcher said the mission was pleased with the Japanese contingent's significant contribution to the people of South Sudan.

"It is the refugees and returnees' right to return and our privilege to assist them," she said as camp residents danced to the sounds of traditional Japanese drum music.