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United Nations (UN) | Southern Sudanese head back home

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Posted January 7, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Events ~ 1,571 views

     


(CNN) | Southern Sudanese have been steadily trickling back home from their country’s northern region ahead of next week’s historic election, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said an average of 2,000 people are crossing from the north into the south every day. The number of returnees has doubled since mid-December and now stands at 120,000, the UNHCR said in a news release.

Several million people in the African nation of Sudan will be going to the polls to vote on whether the autonomous region of Southern Sudan should become an independent country or remain part of Sudan.

“We anticipate that many more will return in the coming months following the referendum. Many of the returnees who have lived in the North for years say they have left for fear of the unknown and the opportunity to start afresh in their native South,” the UNHCR said.

Southern Sudan capable of independence?

Since early last year UNHCR established a presence in the ten states of Southern Sudan to support returnees.

The agency said about 30 percent of them have traveled to urban centers and others to rural areas. Most of the returnees are from Khartoum — the capital of Sudan — where some of them have lived for two generations.

“As a result they do not necessarily have a home village to return to, but having lived in an urban environment they are settling in South Sudan’s urban centers. This puts additional pressure on the fragile infrastructure of South Sudan’s towns and has prompted UNHCR to focus its attention on these urban returns. We are providing assistance to 35,000 returnees in and around the town of Abyei, with stocks in the South for more than 100,000, should they be needed,” the agency said.
One region that has received many returnees is the Upper Nile.

“Every day, buses and barges with returnees arrive in the state capital, Malakal. They have come with everything they own. The buses and barges are packed with beds, sofa seats, chairs, tables, cooking pans and utensils, corrugated iron sheets, radio sets, and some have even come with TV sets, fridges and small generators.”

While other agencies have noted the return, the International Rescue Committee said in a statement it is concerned about the fate of southerners who stay in the north.
The agency said it is important that “the status of those southern Sudanese who would prefer to remain in the North is established.”

“We are concerned about the spectre of a significant number of southerners in the North having uncertain citizen status, possibly becoming stateless. We are actively supporting negotiations with officials to address this issue, which if left unresolved could result in an even larger movement south. There are an estimated 1.5 -2 million southerners who live in the North.”

From January 9 to January 15, the black Christians and animists in the autonomous region of Southern Sudan will vote on whether to declare independence from a northern government dominated by Arab Muslims. The two sides fought a war that killed 2 million people from 1983 to 2005, when a peace treaty set the stage for the upcoming vote.

Article Source: CNN


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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

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