UNMISS supports reconciliation process to enable displaced to return to Tambura

unmiss south sudan western equatoria tambura idps armed conflict reconciliation returnees protection of civilians reintegration peacekeepers

Armed conflict displaced thousands of people from greater Tambura. Some of them have now returned, looking to resume their normal lives. Photos: Denis Louro Oliver/UNMISS

15 Jul 2022

UNMISS supports reconciliation process to enable displaced to return to Tambura

Denis Louro Oliver

WESTERN EQUATORIA- In recent times, the citizens of the green fertile land of greater Tambura have faced approximately six months of armed conflicts, killing many and displacing some 80,000 persons. As some of them are now returning, many are finding their homes and livelihoods destroyed and possessions looted.

“We were in a nearby camp for the internally displaced, but when the war subsided, we decided to move back home. Humanitarian agencies have brought medicines to the health centre, but we don’t have clean water, agricultural tools and seeds, and no plastic sheets to protect our shelters from the rain,” said Lucia Edward, a returnee in Nabanga, part of greater Tambura.

 Those who have returned have done so at least partly thanks to the deployment of peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), who are patrolling the area, doing their best to protect civilians and create trust and confidence among communities.

“Signs of peace being durable, that is what will make internally displaced persons decide to come back home,” said Guang Cong, the UN Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, during his recent visit to Tambura.

In meetings with local authorities and community leaders, Mr. Cong outlined the peacekeeping mission’s priorities to further reduce tensions and support the reintegration of returnees.

“As UNMISS, we will focus on strengthening the capacity of local peace initiatives, support the dialogue and reconciliation process between the warring communities and launch a community violence reduction programme targeting more than two hundred youth in and around Tambura. We want to teach them vocational skills so that they can make a living and live peacefully,” he said.

While some of the people who fled the area have come back, many others are not yet convinced that conditions to do so are sufficiently conducive. Margret Mathew, a mother of seven, is one of them.

“The UN has given us protection, shelter and humanitarian assistance, but we need total peace to return, especially as women. We would love to go back and I’m eager to start cultivating my land, but our houses were burnt and the tents we have are torn and cannot be used to build new homes. More support is needed for everyone to resume their lives as before,” she said.