UNHCR urges South Sudan to improve security to facilitate return of refugees

South Sudan

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi has called on South Sudan to improve security, rule of law and good governance to create an enabling environment for the return of refugees.

“What people (refugees) need is security and it’s the responsibility of the government to provide security to refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs) and all South Sudanese,” Grandi told journalists on Thursday in Juba at the end of his four-day visit to South Sudan.

During the visit, Grandi met with top South Sudanese officials and visited IDPs and refugees in Bentiu, Jamjam and Yambio. “Millions of South Sudanese remain in exile abroad or displaced in their country but growing numbers are returning home spontaneously,” he said.

“Returnee women in Bentiu told us that their challenges are now poverty, land issues, inadequate services.” There are more than 2 million South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries like Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The UNHCR chief said the current security situation in South Sudan is relatively stable compared to 2017, when he last visited the country.

However, Grandi said, some parts of Sudan, like Maban in Upper Nile state, remain difficult to access due to insecurity.

Maban is home to thousands of Sudanese refugees, mostly from the Blue Nile and South Kordofan areas, who were displaced as a result of decades of conflict in Sudan.

Some displaced people returning are finding difficulties in reclaiming their land that is being illegally occupied by other people, Grandi said. He urged the government to improve service delivery to its population affected by the more than six years of conflict.

“I encourage the government to improve security and rule of law,” Grandi said. “We have to help the government more and more on the development.”

He called on the government to focus more on women as many of them are still traumatized after witnessing the killing of their husbands, in addition to being raped during the conflict. Grandi urged the transitional unity government to speed up implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace deal.

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