June 27, 2013 (BOR) - Hundreds of South Sudanese returnees who were stranded in Upper state have completed a 12-day journey in a hired barge from Juba to the Jonglei state capital, Bor.
- James Jok, the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) coordinator, carrying a returnee child, while standing between the father and mother in Bor, June 28, 2013 (ST)
The returnees told Sudan Tribune they opted to hire the barge after they waited for too long for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and its partners to provide them transport.
The IOM says that it has helped at least 40,000 people return to the south from Sudan since 2011, when the country split into two after South Sudanese voted for secession.
At least 1.88 million returnees, according to IOM, have been registered in South Sudan since 2007.
John Mabior Anyieth, one of the returnees who arrived on Friday told Sudan Tribune that he was in Blue Nile state in August 2011 when conflict broke out between the government and SPLM-North - the party of the then state governor Malik Agar.
Agar was deposed and the SPLM-North has since formed a coalition with the Darfur rebel groups.
Sudan has accused South Sudan’s ruling SPLM of continuing to support their former colleagues north of the border and has closed many parts of the border for much of the last two years.
The Blue Nile conflict forced Anyieth to flee to Renk in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state, but was forced to wait over a year until he was able to travel to Bor.
“It was actually difficult to get a barge through [the] IOM to take us to our places”, he said.
Officials from South Sudan’s Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) in Bor county have received the returnees. Seven of the households on the barge were identified as being from Jonglei state.
The RCC coordinator in Bor county, James Jok, said they would place a request to the United Nations World Food Programme to provide the returnees who were travelling to Juba with seven days food.
South Sudan’s ministry of health will provide them with medicine to last them for the rest of the trip, he added.
“We want to make sure they have enough [food] and medicines that can take them to Juba”, Jok said.
“The remaining families of Jonglei will be given necessary assistance by Monday”, he added.
At least four million people are expected to face food insecurity in South Sudan during this year’s rainy season, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Currently, WFP says, 2.9 million people in South Sudan are being provided with food and livelihood assistance, including 670,000 refugees from the conflict in Sudan’s southern states and internally displaced South Sudanese within the young nation.