The Minister of Information of Jonglei State, Ms. Elizabeth Nyedak, said at least 200 returnees arrived in Akobo County by boat from Banidok refugee camp in Ethiopia on Monday.
This is the second batch of refugees who made their way from Banidouk camp to Gambella on foot and then chartered a boat to take them home.
Refugees from South Sudan in neighbouring countries began the process of self-return to their homeland some time ago after the World Food Program decided to stop distributing food in the camps.
Since the trend of voluntary return of refugees to South Sudan started, there have been impressive cases of South Sudanese returning home after lengthy stay in the neighbouring countries. It is perhaps important for the government, through the ministry of humanitarian affairs, to start aggressively supporting as part of the preconditions in the revitalised peace agreement ahead of the elections.
Returnees need emergency food assistance to enable them to adapt to new means of livelihood. They also need health services, treatment, housing, and education for their children.
The issue of reintegration into society and life may take time, but in the end, these returning refugees can contribute to boosting agricultural activity in different villages and regions, which will help strengthen the country’s economy.
The issue of security will be a priority for returning refugees, because providing security will ensure their stability in the region so that they do not have to flee their country again.
Certainly, adding more numbers of returning refugees in Jonglei, after those who returned from refugee camps in Uganda to the Equatoria region, and also those returning from Sudan in large numbers in Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal, will certainly increase the burden on the government, which requires addressing aid organizations. The international community needs to help with this.