By Isaac Vuni
June 20, 2007 (JUBA) — The representative of the Commissioner of Southern Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC), Mr. Stans Yatta said, today, that repatriation of southern Sudanese returnees to their respective states is vital and demanding because returnees and refugees alike are needed to participate in rebuilding their war torn southern Sudan.
- Sudanese people dance during celebrations to mark World Refugee Day at the UN-run Way Station outside the southern capital Juba, June 20, 2007. (Reuters)
He made these remarks during an annual occasion organized by UNHCR to commemorate World Refugee Day at Juba Way station center, about eight kilometer from Juba capital of southern Sudan.
Mr. Yatta says southern Sudanese returnees including refugees who are still in exile ought to come home and participate in the forth coming national population census exercise scheduled for November this year.
He thanks the UNHCR for constructing reception center and availing necessary facilities for transit returnees.
Speaking in the same occasion, the logistic and receptionist officer of GTZ partner to UNHCR, Mr. Biyan Karanu, said UNHCR Juba branch Way station center for returnees has a capacity to accommodating five hundreds people at a time and that it also has the necessary basic implements for receiving returnees.
He disclosed that there are only twelve returnees who came from Central Africa Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Uganda awaiting to proceed to their respective locations in southern Sudan.
Mr. Karanu said their mandate as granted by their partner - UNHCR Juba branch Office is to host returnees for a period of about two days then they returnees are given some dry food according to size of their family including transporting them to their respective villages. While in their native location/land, UNHCR Juba branch Office will continue to support the returnees with dry food ration for a period of there months before they are left to fend for themselves, remarks Mr. Karanu.
As the UNHCR withheld information to freelance journalists regarding refugees and returnees statistic, an official of Southern Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC), who declined to be name said there are about 170,000 southern Sudanese refugee still in Uganda out of which 46 have voluntarily registered with UNHCR for repatriation to southern Sudan meanwhile Kakuma camps in Kenya has 46 Sudanese refugees and 45 are ready and willing to return to their motherland.
The sources further said there are about 3.5 million southern Sudanese internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Sudan and over 40,000 have been transported to northern Bahr el Ghazal and the rest of states of Southern Sudan.
It say generally the IDPs in Khartoum are willing to return to their respective locations in southern Sudan but working and skilled IDPs in various private sectors are hesitance because they fears they might not get job on arrival to their states.
Speaking on behalf of southern Sudanese returnees, Mrs. Olga Odera say lost of cultural practice and national languages has greatly affected refugee children born in exile who on return could not speaks in their mother tongue.
She went on saying that exile southern Sudanese refugees were exposed to many dangers including rape HIV/AIDS and adduction of child girls by men to become their wives has negative impact on refugee female education as they became sole bread winner for their family.
However, Mrs. Odera noted that majority of returnees even though underwent through hard conditions of living, it has given them more experience of enduring problems while some acquired new skills and are now ready and willing to impart it into fellows southern Sudanese during this era of CPA.
She appeals to southern Sudanese who might have not experience refugees life to accept returnees with sincere openness and to join hands with in rebuilding war torn southern Sudan.
Meanwhile the Japan Volunteer Centre Executive Director, Mr. Takaki Imia said his organization has recruited sixty southern Sudanese returnees including school drop out to undergo two years auto- mechanical training and the training started last year in October.
Sudan country director has said. Introducing representative of the trainee,Miss.Foni Bethy,Mr. Imia said the training programe started last year in October and among the trainee are two female.
He further said the center has been constructed by UNHCR Juba branch Office to services and repair all vehicles of UNHCR Juba branch Office operating in southern Sudan.
Speaking on the same occasion, the representative of JVC returnees, Miss Bethy says the training is a challenging particularly to female but she is optimistic that the recruited female trainees will complete JVC auto-mechanical cause and will become exemplary to other southern Sudanese female in the modern era of CPA, she asserted.
Finally, Miss. Foni Bethy urges southern Sudanese youth particularly female to come out from kitchen and work alongside with their counterpart male in all fields of services delivery and by doing so, they would have bridge the gender gaps that will benefit the entire southern Sudanese communities.
Prior to commemoration occasion, the UNHCR Juba branch Office organizers had organized a walk for a New Beginning in southern Sudan in the whole of southern Sudan and in Juba the capital of southern Sudan, the three kilometers walk kick off from Juba stadium through Juba Cinema to Petronas roundabout and back to Juba stadium but even so, the participation was very poor except it was domain of UNHCR Juba branch staff, majority are foreigner, who dressed in T-shirts while native Sudanese were only given only identification number written on lamina paper.
Consequently, this year World Refugee Day has very poor participation due to poor public relation by UNHCR Juba branch information officer for the occasion. She is arrogant and does not want to release even media advisory information nor respond to follow up questions from curious freelance reporters and instead accused them of harassing her staff with questions.
It is to be recalled that in Southern Sudan today, particularly in Juba, only journalists from government institutions and some favored private media houses reporters mostly electronic, are regarded as legitimate journalists and UNHCR Juba branch Office is among international NGOs that does not respect or accommodate questions from freelance reporters unless one is a white person.