Home | News    Friday 31 October 2014

Jonglei’s Bor leader urges IDPs to return home

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October 29, 2014 (BOR) – Agot Alier Leek, the commissioner of Jonglei state’s Bor county, said challenges facing internally displaced people (IDPs) could be minimised if they were to return to their villages and relax “the phenomenon” of wholly depending on humanitarian agencies.

Bor county commissioner Agot Alier Leek (C) visits wounded youths referred to Bor hospital as health workers look on on 28 October 2014 (ST)

Some 200,000 people fled Bor county, the seat of Jonglei’s state government, in December and January, crossing the Nile river to Awerial county in neighbouring Lakes state.

The mass exodus followed fierce battles between government and rebel forces for control of the strategic town, some 200km north of the capital, Juba.

Government troops finally took control of Bor on 18 January. By then the town had been reduced to ashes, with the main markets burnt and government and private offices either set alight or destroyed.

Now eight months on, the commissioner says a lot has changed and many people are beginning to return to resume their lives.

DELGATION VISITS IDPs

Leek spoke to Sudan Tribune on Tuesday after returning from a trip to Mingkaman in Lakes state, which is hosting hundreds of thousands of displaced people, mainly from Jonglei.

He led a delegation from the Greater Bor area, comprising of representatives from Bor, Twic East and Duk counties, to meet IDPs and members of the host community.

“They (IDPs) left this place because of the crisis of December. Most of them actually are ready to come back to their houses. I think what is just hindering this [desire to return home] now is this rainy period,” he said, adding that any repatriation will be “voluntary”.

This latest exodus of people from Jonglei is the second since 1991 when a split in the then rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) pitted late leader John Garang de Mabior against Riek Machar, current leader of the country’s rebel faction.

Pro-Machar forces marched across Bor villages resulting in what is known as the Bor massacre.

Although a 2005 peace accord ended more than two decades of civil war with northern Sudan, Bor villages have never been fully inhabited again.

Leek has stressed that history should not be repeated in 2014.

“There is nothing better than your own home. You have the habitat where you were brought up and you know how to live in it – be it in the area of farming, livestock management and then live free,” he said.

“I am not always much impressed about [people depending on humanitarian aid] because this idea of too much depending on somebody to feed you is bad phenomenon,” he added, although he conceded that the dire circumstances of the country’s latest crisis had made it unavoidable.

South Sudan has been mired in conflict since in mid-December last year after an internal political split in the SPLM – now the country’s ruling party – turned violent.

The clashes were initially contained in Juba before rapidly spreading to other areas, as tribal tensions threatened to plunge the young nation into full-scale civil war.

The fighting has pitted troops loyal to South Sudan’s government, led by president Salva Kiir, who hails from the Dinka tribe, against rebel forces aligned with Machar, a Nuer.

SAFE TO RETURN

The commissioner told Sudan Tribune that Bor, Twic East and Duk counties were now under full government control and that there was no longer any threat of violence returning.

“I am convinced Riek Machar’s rebels will not come back to this area again. He did what he has done and he ran where he ran and I am sure with our commitment … Riek Machar will not come back here. He is not [any] longer a real threat to anybody here,” he said.

“He is now more of the media [discussion], especially the foreign media, that seems to be just building him [up], but I think there is stability, there is peace, and the community is confident about itself,” he added.

According to Leek, about half of the population had already voluntarily returned to their homes and that more people are waiting for the onset of dry season, which generally starts in December and continues until April.

“Food and non-food items are being provided to returnees and these efforts are being done at the government’s directives with [the] help of our [humanitarian] partners – the UN agencies, NGOs and we are happy about that,” he said when asked the sort of assistance government is extending to returnees.

POSITIVE STEP

Leek said an earlier peace agreement signed between the South Sudanese government and former rebel leader David Yau Yau had helped restore calm and is another important step to reviving Bor’s villages.

“I am very sure the administration of [the] Pibor area has a very clear instruction that is has already given to its civil population to realise the importance of peace, to realise the importance of living together and [to] co-exist,” he said.

The Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) was created in July out of Pibor and Pochalla counties in accordance with the May peace agreement.

The GPAA has since been expanded to seven counties.

Murle tribe members of the Pibor area and neighbouring communities have long traded accusations over cattle raiding and child abductions.

The situation has been a major source of instability in Jonglei state since 2005.

A long spell without any major raids, however, led analysts to believe that Yau Yau is providing leadership to pastoralists.

Meanwhile, Leek said a recent cattle raid attack in Bor is being jointly investigated by the state government and GPAA officials amid assurances that the perpertrators will be held accountable.

MORE ARRIVALS EXPECTED

Leek said while the conditions in Lakes state’s Mingkaman were basic, the security situation remained normal.

“Naturally, anywhere, even if they were to be here in Bor, challenges are things that are inevitable, of course,” he said, adding that the purpose of his visit wasn’t to convince IDPs to cross the Nile River eastwards to Bor.

“I believe [that] when the rains are over a big number will come, and those who are still willing to stay there in Mingkaam will be welcome because the whole thing will be more of [a] voluntary [decision],” he added.

He said health facilities in Awerial county, where the Mingkaman IDP camp is situated, had been overstretched by the influx of new arrivals from Jonglei, with wounded youth from the area referred to Bor civil hospital on Sunday following inter-clan clashes there last week.

(ST)

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  • 1 November 2014 09:09, by Johndumo14

    Dr Riek Machar ,Ran to Join our enemy khartoum in 1991 in order to get guns and came to s.sudan to kill our people, now again he went to khartoum to give him guns in order for him to kill s.sudanese again. Now most of the rebels who attacked Bentui now come from sudan with all guns given by sudan.Dr Riek Machar is our Arab enemy number 2,we must treat him the same like khartoum.

    repondre message

  • 1 November 2014 09:10, by Johndumo14

    Dr Riek Machar ,Ran to Join our enemy khartoum in 1991 in order to get guns and came to s.sudan to kill our people, now again he went to khartoum to give him guns in order for him to kill s.sudanese again. Now most of the rebels who attacked Bentui now come from sudan with all guns given by sudan.Dr Riek Machar is our Arab enemy number 2,we must treat him the same like khartoum.

    repondre message

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