Cablegate: Southern Sudan - Idp Returns Update

Published: Sun 20 Aug 2006 06:47 AM
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1. The returns season, which has witnessed a fairly active
spontaneous return movement to Southern Sudan and the Three Areas -
Abyei, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile - has come to an end with
the onset of the rainy season and will restart in October or
November 2006. According to the Federal Minister of Humanitarian
Affairs, 500,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) reportedly
returned to Southern Sudan, and the U.N. Mission in Sudan (UNMIS)
reported that 175,000 IDPs returned to the Nuba Mountains. As part
of a U.N./non-governmental organization (NGO)-organized returns
program, 9,700 IDPs returned to Northern Bahr El Ghazal from
Southern Darfur, 4,000 IDPs returned from Western Equatoria to Bor
through Juba, and 1,500 IDPs have returned from Nimule to Bor. End
North to South Returnees in 2006
2. According to the Federal Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Kosta
Manibe, in his address to the National Assembly in July 2006, during
the current returns season reportedly 500,000 IDPs have returned
spontaneously to the South against a target of 620,000. Manibe
added that the target is for 700,000 people to return during the
2006/2007 season and 500,000 IDPs during the 2007/2008 season. The
U.N. has assisted in the return of 9,700 IDPs from South Darfur to
Northern Bahr El Ghazal, of which 4,000 IDPs are from Belail IDP
camp in Nyala, South Darfur. UNMIS reported that 175,000 IDPs
returned spontaneously to the Nuba Mountains. Due to the rainy
season and poor roads, the returns program has been halted
temporarily. Under a Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) assisted
returns program, 2,860 people have returned to Warab State, 3,500 to
Northern Bahr El Ghazal, and 6,000 to Unity State.
3. USAID-assisted returns from Nimule to Bor were managed by
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Norwegian People's Aid (NPA), and
two convoys with 1,500 people have reached Bor. These operations
have now stopped due to rains and poor roads and will recommence in
the dry season after October. Under this operation, 20,000 IDPS are
waiting for assistance to return home. With assistance from the
International Organization for Migration (IOM), 680 IDPs were moved
from Yei to Lologo way station in Juba, and 4,000 IDPs have also
been assisted in returning to Bor from Juba as part of a larger
group of 12,000.
4. In addition to river transport to Juba and Malakal by barges,
returnees have used several ground corridors to the south including
traveling through the Nuba Mountains to Unity State, through Abyei
and Mairam to Greater Bahr El Ghazal, through Nuba Mountains to
Northern Upper Nile, and from Southern Darfur to Northern Bahr El
Ghazal. Manibe criticized the inadequate funding for basic services
in the South, low transport provision for returnees, and the poor
capacity of the River Transport Corporation (RTC) in managing river
transport from Kosti. Manibe added that some IDPs have decided to
return to Khartoum after seeing the poor or inadequate state of
services in the South.
Onset of the Rainy Season
5. Due to the rainy season, roads have become impassable in the
South and the Three Areas, preventing vehicles from carrying
returnees home, hindering humanitarian agencies from providing
assistance, and preventing returnees from constructing new shelters.
UNMIS-Return, Re-integration, and Recovery (RRR), has called for all
parties involved in returns programs to discourage returns
operations until the beginning of the next dry season in October or
November of 2006. The U.N. is evaluating activities of the past
season and will make policy and operational adjustments, if
necessary, based on previous experiences, including protection,
tracking and monitoring, way stations, re-integration, coordination,
information campaigns, and advocacy. UNMIS-RRR will coordinate more
closely with the Sudanese Reconstruction and Rehabilitation
Committee (SRRC) and other departments of the GoSS to strengthen
capacity on returns and re-integration.
Procedures to Facilitate Returns
6. The GoSS has formed a taskforce to facilitate the registration
of those IDPs willing to return voluntarily to the South and has
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allocated USD 24 million to support returns. The GoSS has
registered a total of 320,000 IDPs, and of these, 150,000 were
prioritized. Priority was given to skilled workers and the most
vulnerable populations. The process was slowed due to logistical
complications, the beginning of the rainy season, and the debate
about hiring versus procuring trucks. The GoSS hopes to resolve the
issue of procuring 134 trucks/buses by the beginning of the dry
season in October or November. UNMIS, IOM, and other stakeholders
are making preparations to launch a second survey in August that
will cover all IDP populations countrywide and will focus on IDP
intentions to return home or remain in their places of displacement.
7. UNMIS organized a workshop in Rumbek in May 2006 and consulted
with several stakeholders to revise policy and operational
procedures on returns and re-integration to help improve future
River Corridor - Great Potential
8. The wharf in Kosti on the White Nile River is a site where IDPs
from the North return to the South via barges. The RTC in Kosti,
however, lacks the operational capacity to provide for dignified
returns. The RTC lacks barges and pushers, and therefore has been
unable to organize regular trips to Juba and Malakal. At present,
the RTC currently owns only four barges. As a result, this has led
to overcrowding at the wharf and returnees have been forced to
travel on cargo barges in inhumane conditions with no shelter,
water, sanitation, or safety facilities on board. Many lives,
especially those of children, have been lost.
9. The Government of Germany is working with the RTC to improve
engine capacity (pushers), and the project will renovate 16 pushers
and build 32 engines. The Government of the Netherlands is funding
the construction of 50 new barges in a 5-year project, including, 32
cargo, 8 passenger, 8 flat, and 2 fuel barges. IOM has renovated
and leased two passenger barges which are now in use in the Juba-Bor
returns operation.
10. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) operates the
way station in Kosti wharf with funding from USAID and manages a
returns monitoring and tracking system with support from IOM.
ADRA's tracking of IDPs returning by trucks/buses to points in the
Nuba Mountains and Darfur is not precise as some trucks are not
counted. The tracking of the river corridor is more accurate
because all returnees embark on the barges at one wharf. The
federal and state governments are opening a new wharf in Kosti to
solve the over-crowding problem at the old wharf which is located
closer to town. The move may cause temporary difficulties if
services, such as water and sanitation, are not already in place at
the new wharf. (Note: Way stations built by the U.N. in some
locations are not used by spontaneous returnees who travel directly
to rural home areas without stopping in town centers. Way stations
are favorable for assisted returns, where people are transported to
town centers where they await onward transport to rural areas. End
Harassment of IDPs in Khartoum Camps
11. UNMIS has requested a more practical and systematic approach to
dealing with the increasing number of police raids on IDP
settlements in Khartoum as part of a campaign to eliminate brewing
of alcohol, one of the few livelihoods available to IDP women.
Cases of harassment, violence, and sexual abuse associated with such
police raids and detentions have been reported by NGOs who operate
among the IDPs. The U.N. and NGOs will advocate with the Sudanese
government to stop such human rights abuses. According to Manibe,
20 percent of IDPs in the North have chosen to integrate into their
current communities, 70 percent of IDPs are willing to return home,
and 10 percent have not yet decided what to do.
USAID Programs Assisting Returnees
12. To date, USAID implementing partner ADRA has provided
assistance to returnees on the Nile, through the Kosti and Malakal
way stations, and supported sanitation activities in Bor town, a
health clinic in Juba, and food and non-food item (NFI)
13. In the area of assisted returns, USAID partners NPA and CRS
have aided in the transport of 20,000 IDPs from camps in Equatoria
(Kajo Keji and Magwi Counties) to Bor.
KHARTOUM 00001980 003 OF 003
14. USAID is also supporting 15 partners working in the health
sector, 2 partners operating water and sanitation programs, 11
partners in the food security sector, and 4 partners engaged in
livelihoods programs.
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