April 23, 2009 (JUBA) — Some 20,000 Sudanese returned home from Uganda this year with the assistance of the United Nations refugees agency (UNHCR).
Nearly 150,000 southern Sudanese returned home since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005 between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) after more than two decades of war.
More than 50,000 Sudanese refugees still in the neighboring country are expected to return before the end of the year,
"We are very pleased to see the steady increase in the number of Sudanese returning to their country," said Stefano Severe, UNHCR Representative in Sudan, adding that the agency looks forward to helping many more repatriate.
2008 saw the return of 42,000 refugees while only 17,000 returned in 2007. Approximately two million people have returned to south Sudan since 2005.
The Refugees International warned last March that South Sudan government and UN Mission in Sudan to elaborate a strategy for refugees and IDPs reintegration in southern Sudan.
"There has been very little progress in expanding access to clean water, primary health care and education and micro-credit schemes. Livelihood opportunities for returnees and receiving communities remain limited to subsistence agriculture and small commerce which fail to guarantee adequate food security. This results in non-sustainable returns and drift towards urban areas," said the refugee organization.
The Refugees International also said that the Southern Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission is extremely weak, has failed to develop key policies, and lacks resources to implement projects.
Further, it mentioned the lack of coordination between the GOSS and the UNMIS in this regard and invited them to engage serious discussion to develop reintegration policy.
"The GoSS must set up a mechanism to coordinate reintegration activities with each relevant line ministry, and must allocate resources specifically for reintegration of returnees,” it suggested.