Partners ink deal to support returnees

By Gladys Kole

The European Union and UNHCR have signed an agreement that provide support for an initiative dabbed as “Pocket of Hope” in South Sudan supporting returnees to restore back their livelihoods.

Speaking to media during the signing ceremony, Arafat Jamal, the UNHCR Country Representative to South Sudan said the overall objective is to enable displaced persons and local communities to have access to protection, self-reliance-oriented support that advances reintegration and development.

 “Pocket of hope” is a concept that we have been advocating for in South Sudan and essentially, we know that not every part of the country is at peace at the moment and ready for development but we do feel some places in the country are.”

He also said that they have identified 7 counties with Magwi and Torit being examples where people have returned in large numbers.

He said that if there are higher numbers of returnees with low conflict, low climate effects and low famine plus good governance like they have identified in the south bordering Uganda, north next to Sudan and east next to Ethiopia, part of the agreement they have signed today is actually investing in this places that they have identified as pockets.

He further reiterated that all parties in South Sudan to recognize that there will be no sustainable peace in this country until solutions from all citizens and this includes the 2.3 million South Sudanese who found themselves as refugees.

Meanwhile Timo Olkkonen, the EU ambassador to South Sudan said there’s a lot of work to do in the country, we need to assist the people in South Sudan to meet the challenges that they have today.

He further stated that this programme is about how we could support returnees so that they could feel safe, protected and that they would have livelihoods and their rights will be respected.

The signature to this agreement will be incorporating in terms of offering protection and other services to returnees and it is about supporting returnees to have documentation which will guarantee their rights,” said Olkkonen.

EU is a long-standing partner with UNHCR in South Sudan both in development and humanitarian cooperation.

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