South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, is urging the over 2 million South Sudanese refugees living in neighboring nations to begin returning home. Salva Kiir says his government will provide the required security for returning refugees.
Kiir told representatives of South Sudan’s large population of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Juba on Wednesday that repatriating the displaced citizens was the government’s top concern.
More than 2.3 million South Sudanese are living as refugees in neighboring countries such as Kenya, Egypt, and the largest population in Uganda. According to reports, Uganda is home to over 1.3 million South Sudanese refugees, the overwhelming majority of whom are women and children.
Kiir promised that the government would provide security for IDPs, though he admitted that convincing them to abandon their current safe havens would be difficult.
“For those who choose to return to their habitual areas of residence, the government will provide security and will collaborate with partners to organize logistics around what is required to effectively resettle in those areas,” President Kiir stated.
“Equally, for those who are unable to return to their homes, we have spoken with authorities in the states where IDP camps are situated about setting aside land and relocating them.” “He stated. I must emphasize that once designated, this land must be allocated solely to IDPs,” he went on to say.
Pope Francis had a similar gathering with IDP leaders in Juba during his visit to South Sudan earlier this month.
The 2013 civil war that erupted when Kiir’s troops clashed with those of opposition leader Riek Machar displaced many South Sudanese IDPs.
A member of the national parliament, James Kok, echoed the president’s message, proclaiming 2023 the year of reconciliation, forgiveness, and growth.
“This word must be sent to all South Sudanese people to let them know that the president has forgiven people this year, and people should forgive him as well,” Kok said.
Kiir made no mention of South Sudan’s ongoing political and economic challenges in his appeal for refugee and IDP resettlement. The country has yet to fully implement the 2018 peace agreement that ended the civil war, and sections of the country are still experiencing chronic violence.
Intercommunal violence, primarily caused by cattle rustling, has triggered a fresh wave of displacement in the Upper Nile region.
Juma Nyundeng, a chief in Unity state, said the IDPs told the president that all they desired was peace.
“We don’t want to see violence anymore,” he said. “There’s fighting in Upper Nile, and we don’t want Upper Nile, Abyi, and Twic battling each other, all we want is peace and the reunification of our nation,” Nyundeng said.
South Sudan has not experienced prolonged calm since gaining independence from Sudan in 2011.