SUDAN WATCH: UNHCR uses White Nile ferry to start major return of Sudanese IDPs

Sunday, February 12, 2006

UNHCR uses White Nile ferry to start major return of Sudanese IDPs

Good news. The long awaited return to South Sudan has started. The UNHCR-assisted return operation to South Sudan has begun.

The first large group of internally displaced Sudanese that UNHCR has helped home stepped ashore in the riverside town of Bor last Sunday ending sixteen years in exile.

Full report February 6, 2006.


Photo: UNHCR starts the large-scale return of internally displaced Sudanese, using a ferry on the White Nile. (UNHCR/T.Pike)

Dinkas sang joyfully when they stepped ashore in Jonglei State

Darfur must not be allowed to go on for twenty years.

UNHCR report from Bor 7 Feb, 2006 excerpt:
After a journey along the White Nile, a double-decker ferry docked in the South Sudan town of Bor with 376 returnees, part of efforts by humanitarian agencies to help internally displaced South Sudanese return home after many years of displacement.

The group on the ferry was mainly composed of women, children and the aged, while returning men went by foot, escorting their half a million cattle from Western Equatoria back to Bor.

The passengers, all from the Dinka ethnic group, were singing joyfully when they stepped ashore in the riverside town in Jonglei State on Sunday and were met by jubilant relatives and friends. They had left Juba 14 hours earlier as 375 internally displaced persons (IDPs) but a baby girl was born during the trip.

"The moment you stepped off the ferry, you became citizens of Bor, you are IDPs no longer," said the acting governor of Jonglei State. "There is plenty of land waiting for you and you will be able to rebuild your communities and educate your children."


Photo: Hundreds of south Sudanese refugees were recently helped by UNHCR to go back to their country. Tens of thousands are due to follow. Many of them have lived outside their country for decades. For them 2006 will surely be a year of change.

Return to South Sudan

More than 21 years of civil war displaced four million people within the country and forced another 500,000 into neighbouring countries.

Millions will soon return home. UNHCR will help them return to their villages. Find out more on UNHCR special sub-site "South Sudan Operation" and don't miss their uplifting eyewitness account on short video clip entitled South Sudan: New Year, New Life.

To make sure refugee and returnee children get an education, UNHCR is building Yari Secondary school 10km South of Yei in southern Sudan.


Photo: "The South Sudanese really prize education," says Timothy Brown, a UNHCR education expert in Yei, with decades of experience in the field. "Their thought is always to go further, to get more education." (UNHCR/M.Pearson Sep 2005)


Photo: Sudanese women learn tailoring. Refugees and returnees need to find work once they return home. Training people and helping them start a small business is a step in the right direction. (UNHCR/M.Pearson Sep 2005)


Photo: In Yei, South Suden returnees take UNHCR-sponsored carpentry classes at the Vocational Training Centre. Courses at the centre include building, information technology, carpentry and tailoring.


Photo: Thousands of bullet holes riddle the facade of this school and remind returnees in Yei of their painful past. In South Sudan, UNHCR is funding projects that benefit entire communities, not just returning refugees. (UNHCR/M.Pearson Sep 2005)


Photo: Clearing landmines to make way for trucks bringing refugees home is a top priority in South Sudan. (UNHCR/M.Pearson Sep 2005)


Photo: Young Sudanese relax outside of their school before class starts. (UNHCR/M.Pearson Sep 2005)


Photo: School children study English at school in Yei. (UNHCR/M.Pearson Sep 2005)


Photo: Lucy Agnes (22) learns how to make bricks at a UNHCR-sponsored building course at the Vocational Training Centre, in Yei, South Sudan (UNHCR/M.Pearson (September 2005)


Photo: Sudanese teenagers play basketball during a break from their studies. (UNHCR/M.Pearson Sep 2005)



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