South Sudan calls for peace and asks refugees to return home
Noriko Watanabe and Kanako Mita
Modern Tokyo Times
The independence of South Sudan (Republic of South Sudan) was meant to usher in a new dawn. This concerns freedom from Arabization and Islamization related to the policies of past Khartoum elites. However, since South Sudan split from Sudan: ethnic massacres, political power plays, and rampant corruption entered the vacuum instead of “a new start.”
President Salva Kiir is now seeking a fresh start to stem the cycle of violence. Accordingly, Kiir appealed for over 2 million refugees in neighboring nations to return home.
Similarly, internally displaced people (IDP) in South Sudan also fear returning home – just like refugees in neighboring nations.
Kiir said, “For those who will opt to return to their habitual areas of residence, the government will provide security and will work jointly with partners to organize logistics around what is needed to resettle successfully in those areas.”
Kiir continued, “Equally, for those who cannot go back to their residence, we have spoken with authorities in the states where IDP camps are located, to set aside land and to resettle them… I must add that this land, once designated, must be allocated to IDPs and IDPs only.”
The political elites in South Sudan need to win over millions of refugees who fled ethnic violence. Hence, while declaring reassurances, many will still fear returning home.
Peter Van der Auweraert (United Nations humanitarian agency OCHA) uttered, “The humanitarian community in South Sudan is appalled by the continuous violence that has a devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of ordinary men, women and children.”
Reuters reports, “A peace agreement signed in September 2018, the latest in a series reached since the conflict began in late 2013, is largely holding. South Sudan’s civil war, often fought along ethnic lines, is estimated to have claimed close to 400,000 lives.”
It remains to be seen if refugees and internally displaced people will return home. If they do, Kiir must also focus on the economic angle and solving political discord.
The international community and regional nations need to work with the government of South Sudan to a higher level if the words of Kiir are sincere.
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