United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)

Since political violence has greatly reduced in South Sudan, many people who had sought sanctuary in their northern neighbor, Sudan, have started returning to their places of origin.

To enable returnees to reintegrate into society and ensure they have the support they need to rebuild their lives, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recently conducted a two-day workshop in Kodok, Upper Nile.

The aim: To convene and connect all stakeholders involved in the return and reintegration process, including humanitarian partners.

“The culture of hospitality underpins life in South Sudan,” said Angelo Lual, Executive Director, Kodok, to participants. “However, just warmly welcoming our newly returned brothers and sisters isn’t enough. We need a strong structure and mechanisms to ensure that they can resettle without obstacles and begin life anew.”

Traditional leaders and female participants and women participants who recently returned to Fashoda, an area bordering Sudan, also highlighted key points that will ease their reintegration and foster peaceful coexistence between communities. These recommendations included improving security conditions, resolving property-related conflict, better management of agriculture and livestock, improving educational and healthcare facilities, creating opportunities for income-generation and so forth.

For Mary Okod, new returnee and a mother of seven, higher education for her children is of paramount importance. “My husband was killed during the conflict and I was left as a single mother and a refugee in Sudan. I have returned to my country because the conflict is over. My children are now teenagers and they need to finish high school. It is only with the right education that they will be able to integrate fully into their own nation,” she averred.

For 24-year-old Tres John, also a recent returnee, the workshop was a productive one. “It was good to converse with other people who were also uprooted due to violence and share the same experiences that my mother and I went through. There are still more of us who are in Sudan and I know they want to come back and resettle where they belong. For us as young people, we need to secure our future in our home country and would greatly benefit from vocational trainings,” she stated.

For Joseph Abam, the paramount chief of Loul payam [administrative division] the two-day session was fruitful because all participants engaged in frank discussions about improving their lives. “We have managed to identify key areas where we need to focus to give returnees every opportunity to reintegrate and are appreciative of UNMISS for taking this initiative. We have exchanged ideas and now, it is time, to work collectively to build peace together,” he said.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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